Ask the Doctor: Jammed Finger

Q: I jammed my finger, and now I can’t extend the last joint all the way. What should I do?

A: This type of injury is called a mallet finger. With a simple mallet finger injury, the tendon responsible for extending the last bone of the finger ruptures (tears off the bone), which prevents you from being able to extend it. With a bony mallet finger, a small piece of bone breaks off when the tendon tears.

In most cases, mallet finger injuries respond well to splinting. With splinting, calls have the ability to grow and reconnect the tendon to the bone. For best results, splinting should be done within one or two weeks of the injury, and your finger should remain splinted and completely immobilized for eight to 12 weeks. In rarer cases, surgery may be recommended.

If a mallet finger is not fixed, some people may develop a secondary deformity called a swan neck deformity, where the middle joint on the finger hyperextends. So it’s best to get it check out with a doctor early.

If you’ve experienced a hand or finger injury, call (423) 624-2696 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Smith or one of our other upper extremity specialists today.  

Brian Smith, M.D.

Brian Smith, MD, is a fellowship trained orthopaedic surgeon who specializes in hand and elbow care.

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