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Mallett Finger

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What is Mallet Finger?

Mallett finger is an injury to the long extensor tendon of the finger. This is the tendon that runs along the back of the finger to help us straighten our finger to reach around something before we grip it. This allows us to straighten the final bone in our fingers fully and gives us the fine movements we have the ability to do with our fingers. The tendon attaches to the base of the last bone of the finger, just where the final crease is and where movement occurs.

Mallet Finger


What can cause Mallet Finger?

Injuries to the tendon are commonly caused by hitting a straight finger into something and bending it suddenly. This happens a lot in sports such as netball and basketball where the player misses a catch and hits the end of the finger on the ball. This type of injury can also happen with pushing up from a chair or pushing open a door. It can sometimes take very little force to do the injury and all that will be noticed is an inability to fully straighten the finger at the end. there may be pain in and around the affected joint but sometimes there is not, particularly if the injury was small. there is likely to be more pain if a more aggressive injury occurred that causes more swelling. This injury can happen to any finger.

How do I know if I have Mallet Finger?

If you notice a problem with the movement of the end of your finger, you cannot fully straighten it, you should try to attend a minor injuries unit or Accident & Emergency Department as soon as possible for assessment and treatment. this is for two main reasons. importantly, if you have got a mallet finger then the earlier you get the finger splinted the better the outcome. We also know that a percentage of these injuries cause a small fragment of the bone at the end of the finger, where the tendon attaches, to pull off with the tendon injury. This will require careful assessment and possibly imaging such as an X-Ray to diagnose. If this is the case, sometimes this bone needs further careful management to ensure it heals fully and so the correct management is essential.

What can I do if I have Mallet Finger?

After a Mallett injury and the resultant treatment in a splint, sometimes the finger can become stiff or weak. This can be tackled with tendon gliding exercises and physiotherapy input. This injury tends to heal well if advice on management is followed. rarely does it result in a permanent problem.  If you would like a physiotherapists opinion on your finger please just drop us a call on 02078840374 or email

Written by

Leanne Plenge

Bristol Manager and Chartered Physiotherapist