What is included in treatment for mallet finger following splinting?

Updated: Aug 27, 2018
  • Author: Roy A Meals, MD; Chief Editor: Harris Gellman, MD  more...
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Answer

Regardless of the splinting method used, patients should have a follow-up appointment 1 week following the initiation of splinting to ensure that the joint is being properly maintained in extension and will continue to be. An adjustment in splint size may be necessary if any surrounding edema has subsided.

Most athletes with mallet finger are able to participate in their sport during treatment. Additional padding and support of the affected finger may be appropriate for play in contact sports. Throwing athletes who injure their dominant hand may initially miss practice and playing time.

At the end of treatment, the DIP joint should be stiff in full extension. Full-time splinting in extension for an additional 2-4 weeks is advised if an extensor lag is noted. If no extension lag is present and strength against resistance can be demonstrated, the patient should begin a slow weaning of the splint over the next 1-2 weeks. At that point, the splint should be used for 2-4 more weeks at night and with activities that put the joint at risk. The patient may then resume full activity. Specific finger exercises to regain flexion are very rarely required.


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