You have a mallet finger, which means that the tip of the finger lies in a bent position and you are unable to straighten it. You have snapped the tendon that normally straightens the end of the finger. The tendon may even have pulled off a small fragment of the bone.

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Treatment

A mallet finger is a common injury, in most cases an operation is not necessary. You will be treated with a splint.

There are two ways to get the splint: 

  1. You visit the Emergency Department during office hours. You will get a personalized splint at the 'Gipskamer' (plaster room) to keep the finger straight
  2. You visit the Emergency Department outside office hours: you will get a temporary splint. You have to make an appointment to our 'Gipskamer' (plaster room) by calling +31 (0)88 32-0 27 00.  We strongly advise you to do so on the next workday. After you have made the appointment you can come to our 'Gipskamer' and a personalized splint will be made for you.

The treatment of a mallet finger with a loose bone fragment (fracture) is different from a mallet finger without a bone fragment (i.e. only tendon injury). Your doctor will tell you about your specific type of injury.

O Treatment in case of a mallet finger with fracture

0-6 weeks
  • Continuously wear the splint. Do not take it off, at all.
6-8 weeks
  • Start hand-therapy (and start exercises when your therapist advises you to do so).
  • Wear the splint during the night and when your finger is at risk of injury.

O Treatment of a mallet finger without fracture (tendon injury) 

0-8 weeks
  • Continuously wear the splint. Do not take it off, at all.
8-10 weeks
  • Start hand-therapy (and start exercises when your therapist advises you to do so).
  • Wear the splint during the night and when your finger is at risk of injury.
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Instructions

Follow these instructions for a good recovery.

  • You have to wear the splint at all times (24 hours a day). It is very important that you do not remove the splint. If you remove the splint before your hand-therapist advises you to do so, your recovery up to that point will be undone and the chance of a complete recovery will decrease.
  • You should never replace the splint yourself. When de splint doesn't fit anymore contact our 'Breuklijn' (fracture hotline). See also the information at the bottom of this page.
  • If you have a tendon injury, you have to wear the splint for 8 weeks. If you have a tendon injury with a loose bone fragment, you have to wear the splint for 6 weeks.
  • After these 6 weeks (bone fragment + tendon injury) or 8 weeks (isolated tendon injury), you have to wear the splint during the night and whenever your finger is at risk of injury for 2 weeks.
  • After 6 weeks (bone fragment + tendon injury) or 8 weeks (isolated tendon injury), you will start hand-therapy, wear the splint longer when your hand-therapist advises you to do so.
  • Your finger and the splint should not get wet, as this will cause irritation of the skin. Try to limit washing your finger. When you do wash your finger, it is very important to keep the finger straight when taking off the splint. This can be done by placing the hand flat on a table.
  • Are you in pain? Use a mild pain killer such as acetaminophen. Do not wait with the use of acetaminophen until the pain is too much.
  • It is important that you do not start exercises before the hand-therapist advises you to do this. When you can start with exercises your hand-therapist will give you specific exercises.
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Recovery

  • At the 'Gipskamer' (plaster room) you will get a hand-therapy referral. You can make an appointment at the therapist after 6 weeks (bone fragment) or 8 weeks (tendon injury). The therapist will decide if you can start exercises and will give you instructions on how to use the finger during daily activities. Be careful to gradually resume daily activities and not make any sudden movements with your injured finger. This can damage the tendon.
  • Most mallet injuries heal after 3 months.
  • If you have any questions, please contact our 'Breuklijn' (fracture hotline). See also the information at the bottom of this page. If follow-up is necessary, we will make an appointment for you.
  • Also contact the 'Breuklijn' (fracture hotline), when:
    • your pain increases.
    • the splint does not fit anymore.
    • the splint needs to be cleaned.
    • the tip of your finger bends again when you have started doing the exercises.

Virtual Fracture Care app

In our Virtual Fracture Care app, you can find more information about your injury. You can also find exercises here to improve your recovery. You can find the app in the Appstore (iPhone) and in the Google Store (Android). You can also scan the QR-code, automatically you will be transferred to the app.

Questions? Please call the 'Breuklijn'

If there are any questions after reading this information, please call our 'Breuklijn' (fracture hotline) on workdays between 10.00-12.00.

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SEH app E 06-AD