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Mallet finger

Patient information A-Z

You have torn the tendon that straightens the end joint of your finger. Your fingertip is drooping because the tendon to extend it has snapped. We call this ‘mallet finger’.

To treat this, the joint must be held straight in a splint for six to eight weeks, as tendons heal very slowly. The splint will allow the tip to be kept extended when the hand is in use.

If the finger is allowed to bend during this time, healing will not occur and the ‘droop’ of the finger will be permanent. The splint should therefore be removed daily and carefully for cleaning but the finger must be kept straight during these times.

Non-urgent advice: Do not:

  • Attempt to examine the healing by bending the fingertip until you are advised by the treating doctor that this is a safe thing to do.
  • Wear any rings on this hand until the injured finger has healed. All rings must be removed at the time of injury to avoid swelling and circulatory problems.

Non-urgent advice: Do:

  • Keep your hand elevated for 24 hours and exercise all its joints, except the splinted joint.
  • Ensure that a hand therapy clinic appointment is made for you before you leave the emergency department.

To allow cleaning of the finger and splint, carefully remove the splint keeping the finger straight at all times.

Your fingertip must be supported completely straight either by a firm object or the pad of your thumb when the splint has been removed for cleansing.

Following your initial treatment, you will be followed up in the hand therapy clinic.

If you need further advice, please contact the nursing staff of the emergency department on 01223 217119.

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Contact us

Cambridge University Hospitals
NHS Foundation Trust
Hills Road, Cambridge

Telephone +44 (0)1223 245151