Mallet Finger

In order to understand this condition, it is important to understand the anatomy and function of the wrist and hand. Please read Wrist Pain Info / Hand Pain Info’s sections on wrist anatomy and hand anatomy. For information on the biomechanics of the wrist and hand please read Wrist Pain Info / Hand Pain Info’s section on wrist and hand biomechanics.

Mallet Finger
By Howcheng – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

What is a mallet finger?

Tendons are rope like structures that connect muscles to bone. Many of the muscles that move the fingers and thumb are in the forearm. The tendons of these muscles cross the wrist and attach to the bones of the hand. The tendons that straighten the fingers run along the top of the fingers. A forceful blow to the tip of a finger can tear the tendon that straightens the finger, the extensor digitorum communis tendon (the EDC tendon). The force may even be great enough to pull a piece of bone away (avulsion injury) from the end bone of the finger, the distal phalanx. When the EDC tendon is detached, the tip of the finger cannot be straightened and it hangs down abnormally. “Mallet finger” is the term used to describe the condition in which the EDC tendon is torn away from the distal phalanx or a piece of bone is pulled away from the distal phalanx.

What does a mallet finger feel like?

Initially the end of the finger can feel very painful, and the top of the finger near the fingernail can be tender, slightly swollen and red. Mallet finger usually results in an inability to straighten the tip of the finger resulting in the typical mallet deformity.

What causes a mallet finger?

A forceful blow to the end of finger is the most common cause of a mallet finger. It is commonly seen amongst baseball, volleyball, football and basketball players but can also be caused from other trauma such as a fall.

Can a mallet finger be detected on X-ray?

X-rays cannot detect a tear of the extensor digitorum communis tendon. However, an x-ray can detect damage to the bones or an avulsion injury.

What is the treatment for a mallet finger?

Prompt, immediate treatment is required for a mallet finger. Doctors and physical therapists that deal with mallet fingers can help outline the appropriate treatment program depending on the cause and severity of the problem.

What other information is available on mallet finger?

Wrist Pain Info / Hand Pain Info’s links section has additional information on mallet finger. Links have been provided to other websites as well as online medical journals. Visit Joint Pain Info for information on other joint injuries and problems.