Baseball finger is an injury to the tendon that straightens an end joint in a finger and thumb. It’s sometimes referred to as ‘baseball finger’ because the injury occurs when something strikes the tip of the finger and bends it too far. Of course, a baseball is not the only object that can cause this type of damage; anything that forces the tip of the finger to bend too far, leading to injury of the extensor tendon, can result in a ‘baseball finger’ injury.
After a traumatic occurrence where the tip of the finger or thumb sustains a forceful bend, the tip of the finger or thumb may no longer straighten. This may indicate that the tendon on the top of the finger, called the extensor tendon, has been damaged. This injury may also occur in tandem with a bone fracture, pain, swelling, nail bed injury and bruising. The appearance of the finger, where the tip area ‘droops’ has also led to the name ‘mallet finger’. Some people will also describe the injured finger as ‘jammed’; however, it is an injury to the ligament, not a crushing injury.
If you’ve experienced trauma to your finger or thumb that has resulted in what looks to be baseball finger, seek medical attention from a hand specialist. A hand specialist will examine the area and will likely ask you to try to straighten the finger. The doctor may also order an x-ray to understand the extent of the injury and to see if there are any fractures to the bone or if there are any bone fragments separated from the trauma.
If a baseball finger (mallet finger) injury is left untreated, the finger may remain permanently misshapen and painful. Timely treatment is especially important for children in order to mitigate any risk to permanent damage as the body is still growing.
A hand specialist may want to splint the injury, forcing the finger to be straight as the injured tendon heals. More severe cases, in which a joint is moved out of alignment or there is a fracture that requires more than splinting, may require surgery. It’s vital to have this done by a specialist who understands how to perform this treatment to optimize the chances of a full recovery.
The Midwest Hand Surgery team is ready to help with your injury or hand condition. Whether you require therapy or more advanced surgical care, we have the experience and resources to provide the most effective treatment options available. Our three convenient Chicagoland locations, Elmhurst, Palos Heights and Lockport, are equipped to treat your hand or wrist injury, with resources including examination suites, diagnostic X-ray machines, advanced hand surgery suites, and therapy facilities. Please call us at 630-359-6888 or click here to request an appointment.
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