Which clinical history is characteristic of mallet finger?

Updated: Aug 27, 2018
  • Author: Roy A Meals, MD; Chief Editor: Harris Gellman, MD  more...
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In mallet finger, the patient’s history involves a forced distal interphalangeal (DIP) joint flexion injury, after which he or she notices an inability to actively extend the distal joint (although full passive extension remains intact). The dorsum of the joint may be slightly tender and swollen, but often the injury is painless or nearly painless. Patients may think that the joint is only sprained and continue playing sports, with 1 or more days passing before they notice a loss of active extension.

Typically, the athlete with a mallet fracture has a history of a direct blow to the finger, followed by pain and swelling at the DIP joint and an inability to actively fully extend the joint.

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