Q:

What is the treatment for mallet finger?

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Mallet finger is typically treated with a splint to keep the joint straight while it heals, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Patients typically wear a splint for roughly eight weeks and gradually decrease use as the finger regains normal function. If the patient has severe fracturing or alignment damage, physicians may surgically insert pins, screws or wires to repair the finger.

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At home, patients can use ice packs or pain relievers, such as naproxen and acetaminophen, to treat soreness, according to MedlinePlus. Patients can perform most normal activities with the splint, and after several weeks of wearing it full time, they are able to remove it during the day, especially for cleaning.

Mallet finger, also known as baseball finger, occurs when severe impact causes trauma to the extensor tendon inside the finger or thumb, the AAOS states. It commonly occurs when a baseball forcefully strikes the hand. The tip of the finger becomes locked in a bent position, and serious cases may result in displaced bone. The finger usually appears drooped and swollen, causing painful bruising. The base of the nail can also become detached from the nail bed.

Doctors use X-rays to determine the severity of the tendon damage. In children, mallet finger can affect the surrounding cartilage and bone, causing permanent deformity, so physicians must thoroughly evaluate treatment options before proceeding, according to the AAOS.

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