Symptoms and Signs of Mallet Finger

Medical Author: John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP
Medically Reviewed on 3/11/2019

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.


Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.