Mallet finger typically occurs when there is an injury or trauma at the extensor tendon at the end joint of the finger. This is common in sports when a ball hits the tip of the finger or when forceful bending of the finger occurs. In some cases, the force can result in a piece of bone breaking off (a fracture). This type of condition is called a bony mallet finger.
The most common symptom of mallet finger is drooping and the inability to straighten the finger. The finger may be painful, bruised, or swollen. In some occurrences, blood appears under the fingernail and the fingernail can become detached. .
Medical attention should be sought as soon as possible in suspected cases of mallet finger. The physician will examine the finger by identifying the droop in the fingertip and through moving the finger to determine if it can remain straight on its own. X-rays are also used to rule out fractures and to ensure the joint is aligned properly.
Mallet finger can typically be treated without surgery by placing the affected finger in splint for eight to twelve weeks. However, if the bone fragment is significant or if the joint is displaced, surgery may be required.