Mallet finger is an injury to your fingertip. It is common in sports and usually happens when a ball hits the end of your finger (such as a baseball or basketball). There can be a small fracture (broken bone) as well as an injury to tendons in the finger.
Your finger may be painful, swollen and bruised. You may also have trouble straightening the tip of your finger.
If you have injured your finger and it is painful, swollen or difficult to straighten, you should see your doctor right away. Delaying treatment can cause permanent damage or may make your injury more difficult to fix.
In most cases, your doctor may tell you to put ice on the injury to prevent swelling and provide a splint for your finger. This will keep your finger in place while it heals. It is important to remember not to move your finger too much until it is completely healed. You may need someone to help you change your splint. If your injury is more severe (for example, if a bone is broken or a joint is out of place), you may need surgery.
Most people can still play sports with a finger splint. Your doctor will let you know when it's safe to play sports without a splint.
Acute Finger Injuries: Part II. Fractures, Dislocations, and Thumb Injuries by JC Leggit, LTC, MC, USA, and CJ Meko, CAPT, MC, USA (American Family Physician March 01, 2006, http://www.aafp.org/afp/20060301/827.html)
Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff