After what could have been a small injury, it’s now difficult to straighten your fingertip–the fingertip is constantly bent or sagging, hanging down from the top knuckleThe injury which caused itcould have been as minor as a daily task like making a bed or removing clothes, or possibly sporting related, where you experienced a bending force on the tip of your finger.If this sounds like something you have been suffering with, you could have what’s known as ‘Mallet Finger’.
Where there is damage to the top of the finger–a tendon which comes off the bone at the insertion point; a fracture to the bone; or a ruptured tendon –which means the tendon can no longer function to straighten your finger completely. It may initially look like a bent fingertip, but if left untreated, can worsen over time and lead to problems in joints along the finger and result in a deformed ‘swan neck’ finger. The sooner you seek treatment, the better your treatment and resolution outcome will be.
Your GP will be able to coordinate a mallet finger x-ray to investigate the cause and extent of the problem. From there, you can be referred to an orthopaedic surgeon for treatment. Don’t be discouraged by the word ‘surgeon’, because the usual treatment for Mallet Finger is not surgery. Your orthopaedic expert will be able to help you on the path to recovery exploring non-operative solutions. The most common treatment is actually a mallet finger splint. The length of recovery time depends on the type of damage in the finger. Where the tendon is damaged, a splint will usually be needed for eight weeks full time, then a further four weeks at night. Tendons will take longer to heal than bone, so where there is a fracture, splints are only usually needed for six weeks full time, followed by the four weeks at night.
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