What are the treatment options for mallet finger?

Updated: Aug 27, 2018
  • Author: Roy A Meals, MD; Chief Editor: Harris Gellman, MD  more...
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Patients may not present to the orthopedist with mallet finger for weeks or even months, perhaps having received no treatment or ineffective treatment. Bony injuries heal within weeks; thus, an old bony injury without functional deficit is best left untreated.

A tendinous injury generally can be improved by extension splinting up to 6 months from the time of injury. The period of splinting for such an old injury is extended because the area becomes less inflamed as time passes. Therefore, fibroplasia and wound contraction occur more slowly and less completely.

Attempted open reduction and internal fixation (ORIF) of a mallet injury, either tendinous or bony, often results in a stiff, infected, or painful finger. In most instances, therefore, the surgeon should resist the urge to treat mallet finger surgically. [6] However, some indications for surgical reduction, such as volar subluxation of the distal phalanx, do exist.

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