What is a Mallet Finger Injury?
Mallet finger results from an injury to the tendon which straightens the tip of a finger. It is usually caused by a sudden force which pushes the fingertip into a bent position - often a ball striking the end of the finger, or the finger hitting a hard surface like a wall. The force of the blow causes the tendon to rupture or pull away a small piece of bone, which is sometimes referred to as a bony mallet or mallet fracture.
The vast majority of mallet finger injuries can be treated without surgery. An x-ray is required to check the size of the bony fragment is not so large that surgery is required.
Mallet Finger Treatment
A splint is used to hold the ends of the ruptured tendon close to each other or the bone fragment close to the bone until it heals. A custom-made splint is recommended to ensure a precise fit, as an ill-fitting splint will not hold the joint in its optimal position for healing.
Custom-made splints are also less bulky than aluminium or stack splints. It is essential that the splint is worn 24 hours per day for 6 to 8 weeks.
The splint cannot be removed for showers, as flexing the end of the finger, even momentarily, disrupts the healing which has occurred. Our hand therapists can provide you with a rubber finger stall to keep the finger dry whilst showering and preparing food. We can also show you how to remove the splint to clean the finger without allowing the finger to bend.
The length of time a mallet finger splint is required, depends on whether it is a bony mallet or a tendinous mallet. When the mallet finger deformity is the result of a fracture, the splint is generally required for 6 weeks. When the mallet deformity is the result of a tendon rupture, the splint is generally required for 8-10 weeks.
Your hand therapist will show you how to restore full flexion of the finger after the splint is removed, while maintaining correction of the deformity.