Mallet Finger

Overview

What is mallet finger?

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.

Symptoms

What are the symptoms of mallet finger?

Your finger may be painful, swollen and bruised. You may also have trouble straightening the tip of your finger.

When should I go to the doctor?

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.

Treatment

How is mallet finger treated?

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.

When can I play sports again?

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.

Questions to Ask Your Doctor

  • What is the best treatment option? Do I need to wear a splint?

  • How long before I can expect relief from my symptoms?

  • When can I return to my sport/activity?

  • How do I prevent a similar injury in the future?

  • What should I do if the pain and/or swelling gets worse?

Citations

  • Acute Finger Injuries: Part II. Fractures, Dislocations, and Thumb Injuries by JC Leggit, LTC, MC, USA, and CJ Meko, CAPT, MC, USA( 03/01/06, http://www.aafp.org/afp/20060301/827.html)