Mallet Finger Causes, Symptoms, Prevention & Treatment


An injury to the tendon at the tip of your finger is known as a mallet finger, and it is a typical issue for baseball players. It is possible that you will not be able to fully straighten your finger, causing the tip to droop. The usual course of therapy includes cooling and splinting. Surgery is uncommon. A mallet finger has to be treated straight away.

The tendon that straightens the tip of your finger is injured when you have a mallet finger, sometimes referred to as a drop finger or baseball finger (or thumb). Tendons provide mobility and stability by joining your bones to your muscles. The tendon may rip or separate from the finger bone after damage. In rare circumstances, your tendon and fingerbone may both get injured. If you have a mallet finger, your finger droops at the tip are painful and seem bruised or swollen. You are also unable to straighten your finger.

When you try to catch a hard ball and it strikes your extended fingertip in a sport like a football, basketball, or baseball, you may suffer from a mallet finger. The finger you use the most is typically affected by the injury.

A prevalent ailment, particularly among sportsmen, is a mallet finger. Yet it can also happen when doing home chores if you hit the tip of your finger against a wall or door or any immovable object.


Mallet finger injuries occur when your extended finger receives a strong blow or when your fingertip suffers trauma, such as getting stuck in a door.

How to check if you have a Mallet Finger?

If you suspect a mallet finger, get medical attention as soon as possible at the minor injuries unit closest to you. Your finger will require splinting.

Prior to being seen by a doctor, try to keep your hand elevated. This will aid in easing any discomfort and swelling.

Remove any rings you may be wearing on the afflicted finger. The ring might become difficult to take off later due to the swelling or it could stop the blood flow to your finger.

To aid with pain relief, you can take an over-the-counter drug such as paracetamol or ibuprofen.

Using an ice pack wrapped in a towel many times each day for 10 to 20 minutes after your finger is splinted may also help lessen the pain.

Risk Factors

Baseball players get this injury the most frequently, but anybody who participates in a sport that utilizes hard balls (such as basketball, volleyball, football, etc.) is susceptible to it. In fact, even something as easy as changing the bed can cause a mallet finger injury in anyone.


Following the initial injury's discomfort, you could feel:

  • Swelling.
  • Bruising.
  • Redness.
  • Your fingertip's inability to stand up straight.
  • Tenderness.
  • An absent fingernail.
  • Redness at the base of the nails.


Playing sports that include a hard ball might help you avoid mallet finger injuries by being cautious. However, the incidents that cause these injuries are frequent and not always avoidable.


Treatment, both short-term and long-term, is crucial to recovery.

When you are hurt, you should do the following right away:

  • Place an ice pack on your finger after wrapping it in a towel.
  • Over your heart, place your finger. This can lessen the discomfort and keep the swelling under control.
  • If necessary, take over-the-counter painkillers.
  • In order to receive long-term care, you must place your fingertip in a splint and maintain it there for at least six weeks until your tendon recovers.
  •  After a week or two of wearing a splint, your doctor may recommend another X-ray to assess the healing process and the proper positioning of the bone fragment if one was taken off. 
  • After that, you must wear your splint continuously for at least six weeks.
  • You may gently remove the splint this time to allow for cleaning of the splint and the finger, but you should refrain from intense activities and sports to avoid recurring damage.

Splints come in a variety of designs. The appropriate type for you should be discussed with your healthcare professional. The splint must be cleaned and dried once every day (keep your finger straight when you do it). Also, you should apply ice to your splinted finger three to four times daily for 10 to 20 minutes.

In order to keep the joint straight while it heals, your surgeon might need to surgically put a tiny pin into your finger if your mallet finger injury is more complicated.

A plastic splint will be applied to your finger, keeping it straight and gently bending the end joint backwards. The middle joint of your finger will still allow you to flex it.

To ensure that the two ends of the torn tendon stay together and heal, the splint must be taped on and worn day and night for 6 to 8 weeks. Just cleaning should be required for removal.

It is crucial that your finger's tip does not flex while it is in a splint since doing so might hinder healing and lessen the efficiency of the therapy.

It is still possible to move the finger's middle joint to avoid any stiffness from forming.

In rare instances, a mallet finger does not heal, especially if you also have a fractured finger or if the skin is damaged.

You will not be able to use your finger again until it has healed, which should take 6 to 8 weeks. For up to 4 more weeks, you can be instructed to just use the splint at night.

You might only need to see a specialist once in some circumstances since a hand physiotherapist could be able to manage your care. To assist prevent your finger from becoming stiff, they will prescribe you exercises to practice at home.

You might need to take some time off work, depending on your line of employment. Also, you should refrain from hand-contact activities while your injury heals.

The full recovery of your finger's function might take many months. Skin that is swollen, sensitive, and red. For the first three to four months following the accident, swelling around the finger's tip is normal, although it ultimately goes away.

You might not be able to totally straighten the joint and end up with a little bump on top of it. Even while your finger might not be precisely the same as it was before the accident, it should still be able to function.

Complications of Mallet Finger

The majority of difficulties are caused by inadequate care that fails to immobilize your finger properly. Rarely, despite receiving the proper treatment, the tendon just fails to recover. In these situations, fusing the ends of two bones (solid destabilization surgery) can offer healing and stability with virtually normal function.


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Page last reviewed: Mar 22, 2023

Next review due: Mar 22, 2025

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