Mallet Finger Injury (no fracture) | Te Whatu Ora | Health New Zealand | Hauora a Toi Bay of Plenty

Mallet Finger Injury (no fracture)

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What has happened?

  • You have snapped the tendon that normally straightens the tip of your finger. The tendon is like a rope attached to the end piece of bone in your finger tip. When this snaps, the tip of your finger lies in a bent position and you cannot straighten it
  • This injury may seem small, but it could have long lasting effects resulting in loss of good hand function. Therefore, it is essential that you adhere to the following advice to gain maximum recovery

What should I expect?

  • A small splint will be put on your finger in the Emergency Department (ED) and you need to wear this at all times, even at night and showering, to keep your finger straight
  • You will be in this splint for 6-8 weeks, and most of these injuries heal without any problems but it may take a while for your finger to be completely back to normal again
  • There may be redness, swelling and slight pain over your finger for a few months afterwards, but this should settle

What should I do?

  • You must keep your finger straight! If you take the splint off to wash your hands, put your hand flat on the table/counter and slide the splint off without bending your finder. Once you are finished, replace the splint in the same way
  • Try to only wash the finger twice a week to avoid bending your finger
  • After 6-8 weeks, the splint only needs to be worn at night or whenever the finger might be at risk of injury
  • Once you come out of the splint completely at 10-12 weeks, start to gently move the finger again - you do not need to see a doctor before doing this

What should I not do?

  • Do not take your finger out of the splint earlier than outlined above - the success of your treatment depends on wearing the splint at all times

Will I be followed up?

  • Yes, a referral will be made for a hand physiotherapist who will help with your recovery
  • You will not be followed up by the Orthopaedic department
  • Sometimes, after 3 months of being treated in a splint, a tendon may not heal. If you are still having difficulties with your injury at the 10 week mark, see your GP as some cases may need surgery

What if I have concerns/questions?

  • As above, if your injury is not settling after 10 weeks or you have other concerns, you should see your GP first - take your ACC form/number with you