Mallet Finger

Dr. Steven Rueda is one of the most sought after doctors for mallet finger treatment in Palm Beach. This condition refers to an injury to an extensor tendon in the finger. This injury results in inability to extend the finger joint closest to the nail. It received the name mallet, which means hammer, to describe the appearance of the finger after injury.

Mallet Finger Symptoms and Diagnosis

The symptoms arising from mallet finger are caused by the tearing of the tendon insertion on the bone. Some of the most common symptoms include:


  • Inability for the knuckle closest to the nail to bend up
  • Pain behind the nail at the area of tendon insertion
  • Droopy fingertip or fingertip that points down

In some cases patients present with all of the symptoms, and in some cases only with some of them. The most common complaint for patients is the droopy fingertip appearance.

The diagnosis of mallet finger is given using a combination of history and physical examination. A typical history and examination performed by a hand surgeon are usually enough to diagnose the condition. An xray is needed to determine if there is a bony chip with the injured tendon.

WHAT CAUSES Mallet Finger?

The injury typically occurs when the fingertip is forcefully bent down, and the tendon tears from its insertion on the bone. When torn, the tendon can fully tear away from the bone or pull a bone chip with it. Those that pull a piece of bone with the tendon are known as “bony mallet”. It is commonly seen in baseball players and is also known as baseball finger.

Mallet Finger Treatment Options

There are two main ways to treat mallet finger: splints and surgery. The initial form of treatment is always conservative with the use of splints. The goal of the splint is to keep the knuckle immobilized so that the disrupted tendon end can heal back to its insertion site. The splint is typically worn for 6-8 weeks continuously with no breaks.
Some patients find use of the splints very cumbersome and limiting to their daily activities. Others have failed treatment with the splint. For these patients surgery is an option to try to correct the mallet injury. The two methods of surgical treatment are joint pinning and joint fusion.

Mallet Finger Procedure

Joint pinning surgery places a wire through the bones to internally immobilize the joint. It acts similar to the way an external splint would, but in this case remains internal, is less bulky, and usually more reliable. It is kept for 6-8 weeks and then removed in the office. Joint fusion surgery is the last treatment option and rarely performed. If all prior treatment methods have failed and the patient still wants correction of the droopy tip, joint fusion is an option. This surgery removes the cartilage from the joint next to the nail, and fuses the bones together. After healing the finger appears straight and not droopy.


A puncture to fit a 1.1mm wire at the fingertip


Made and hidden on creases on the back of the finger just behind the nail


• Joint Pinning: Outpatient procedure. A finger splint is applied and removed in 5 days. Pain and swelling lasts only for a few days and is well treated with pain medication. The pin is kept for 6-8 weeks and then removed in the office without the need for a second surgery.
• Joint Fusion: Outpatient procedure. A finger splint is applied and removed in 5 days. A removable splint is then used for 6 weeks until the bone fuses. Pain and swelling lasts only for a 1-2 weeks and is well treated with pain medication.

• Joint Pinning: Most patients generally return to work in 3-5 days. Running and jogging is allowed. Lifting weights or manual exercise is not allowed until pin is removed in 6-8 weeks.
• Joint Fusion: Most patients generally return to work in 1 week. Removable splint is worn for 6-8 weeks. Running and jogging is allowed. Lifting weights or manual exercise is not allowed until removable splint is discontinued in 6-8 weeks.

Why Choose Precision Hand Center for your Mallet Finger Procedure?

Dr. Rueda, a Hand Fellowship trained surgeon who has 7 years and 2,000 procedures of experience will be your safe and best choice for mallet finger treatment. Successful results in this procedure requires a surgeon that is experienced and knowledgeable in hand surgery and hand anatomy. Dr. Rueda has published articles in expert peer reviewed journals and his work has been presented in several national conferences. Dr. Rueda’s passion for patient education and custom centered approach will guarantee you feel comfortable every step of the way. Dr. Rueda also believes in treating his patients as if he was treating his own family; you can trust you will enter a trusting and long-term relationship and have some of the best mallet finger treatment Palm Beach can offer.


The majority of patients with mallet finger can be treated without surgery with an extension splint. This splint is worn continuously anywhere from 4-8 weeks depending on the type of mallet. Surgery is only advised if splinting fails or if there is a large bone fragment associated with the mallet finger.  

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