Mallet finger is usually diagnosed after a relatively brief physical examination conducted by an emergency care physician or by an orthopedist, the type of doctor who specializes in such injuries. The downward droop of the fingertip is the major indication of mallet finger, along with the tenderness and pain that occurs in the affected area. X rays will be taken to determine if the bone at the top of the finger has been fractured. Mallet finger is typically covered by medical insurance.
If symptoms of mallet finger appear, the affected individual should consult a physician or seek emergency care. In the meantime, ice (wrapped in a towel or cloth) can be applied to the affected area to help reduce swelling and alleviate pain.
Treatment usually involves wearing a splint around the top of the affected finger in order to keep it extended and allow the injury to heal. The splint must be worn at all times for six to eight weeks, though it may be briefly removed to wash the finger, but with extreme care so as not to allow the fingertip to bend. For the next six to eight weeks after that, the splint need only be worn during sleep or athletic activities.
If the bone at the top of the finger has sustained a large fracture, surgery may be necessary. If the tendon was damaged due to a cut, stitches may be required both to repair the tendon and to adequately close the wound.
Over-the-counter (OTC) or prescription pain medication can be used to alleviate pain.
Acupuncture, therapeutic massage, and yoga are believed by some practitioners of alternative medicine to have generalized pain-relieving effects. Any of these therapies may provide additional comfort while the finger heals.
Greg Annussek, The Gale Group Inc., Gale, Detroit,