Mallet finger injuries (also known as Baseball finger) generally occur during sports-related activities (baseball, softball, soccer, kickball, etc.). This injury can happen to any athlete at any age. It occurs when a force, or in this case a ball, strikes the end of the finger. It will force the fingertip to bend, causing damage to the tendon that allows it to straighten. This diagnosis can be mistaken for a “ball jamming” injury.
Signs and Symptoms include the following:
- Fingertip “droop” accompanied by an inability to straighten.
- Bruising and swelling of the fingertip.
- Significant pain in the fingertip.
This diagnosis can be treated by a physician who specializes in hand injuries. Hand therapists are the best qualified to carry out the rehabilitation phase. Treatment encompasses the following:
- An MD will diagnose through X-rays to rule out fractures.
- A hand therapist will evaluate the extension lag or “droop”.
- Immobilization is completed through splinting fulltime, on average for 6 weeks.
- If the tendon heals properly, the extension lag will fully recover.
- The majority of cases are treated without surgical intervention if no fractures have occurred.
- When catching a kickball or basketball, focus on catching with the palms open toward the ball.
- Protect the free hand and have fingers in a safe position during gameplay.