Mallet Finger

Any injury to the tendon which straightens the end joint of the finger is called a mallet finger. These injuries will either occur in the tendon itself ( a soft tissue mallet) or the tendon will be pulled off the bone taking a small fragment with it ( a bony mallet).

Mallet fingers are common injuries and occur with such simple tasks as tucking in the bed sheets. Often a painless 'pop' is experienced and the affected finger seems to droop at the end. It is still possible to make a fist, but it is no longer possible to fully straighten the end joint without the help of another finger pushing it back.

Mallet fingers will heal in a splint. However, it is absolutely critical that the splint is not removed at any time in the 6 weeks required for healing. If the splint does come off and the finger end is allowed to bend, then the healing tendon material will be stretched and may never heal at the correct length. If it becomes necessary to remove the splint for reasons of hygiene or to treat an underlying blister, the end joint of the finger must be pushed back fully straight at all times until the splint is replaced. The series of photographs explains how to wash your finger during treatment with a mallet splint.


It is critically important to keep the end joint of the finger pushed straight at all times, whether in the splint or not.

Some bony mallet fingers slip out of joint (subluxation). These must be replaced back in joint (and, if necessary, held with a pin) to reduce the risks of stiffness, pain and early arthritis in that joint.

When the splint is no longer required, it is recommended that it is still worn during the night for 2 or 3 weeks. Whilst the function of the hand will return to normal, there is always likely to be a slight droop of the end joint of the finger. This link will take you to more information about mallet finger