Doctor's Notes on Mallet Finger
Mallet finger is an injury to the tendon on the back of the finger (the dorsum-not the palm side). The tendon becomes separated from the joint it connects and results in an inability to fully straighten the finger. It most commonly occurs on the index or middle fingers. Mallet finger is a common athletic injury, but it can also occur due to a finger-crushing workplace injury or a cut finger while preparing food. The tendon may be injured with or without an accompanying fracture.
Symptoms of mallet finger include pain, tenderness, redness, and swelling at the outermost joint immediately after the injury and an inability to completely extend the finger, but it can be moved with assistance. The rest of the hand can often still be used.
Mallet Finger Symptoms
People with mallet finger may delay seeking medical attention, even though they may be in a great deal of pain, simply because they can still use their hand.
Symptoms of mallet finger may include the following:
- Pain, tenderness, and swelling at the outermost joint immediately after the injury
- Swelling and redness soon after the injury
- Inability to completely extend the finger, but the patient can move it with assistance
Mallet Finger Causes
Mallet finger occurs when the outermost (end) joint of the finger is injured. With mallet finger, the tendon on the back of the finger (not the palm side) is separated from the joint it connects. Three types of injuries commonly occur:
- The tendon is damaged, but no fractures (bone cracks or breaks) are present.
- The tendon ruptures with a small fracture caused by the force of the injury.
- The tendon ruptures with a large fracture.
Sports injuries are injuries that occur when engaging in sports or exercise. Sports injuries can occur due to overtraining, lack of conditioning, and improper form or technique. Failing to warm up increases the risk of sports injuries. Bruises, strains, sprains, tears, and broken bones can result from sports injuries. Soft tissues like muscles, ligaments, tendons, fascia, and bursae may be affected. Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is another potential type of sports injury.
Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.