Extensor Tendon and Mallet Finger Injuries

Extensor tendons run just underneath the skin along the back of the hands and wrists. They control the hand’s ability to straighten the fingers and wrists. A mallet finger injury happens when a finger is jammed, causing an extensor tendon to rupture at the base of the finger joint. Other extensor tendon injuries commonly occur from cuts to the back of the hand. 

The University of Michigan hand surgery team is fellowship trained and specializes in the treatment of extensor tendon and mallet finger injuries, from simple to complex. Our goal is to restore mobility and function of the wrist and fingers as soon as possible with minimal impact on the patient’s quality of life.

Symptoms of Extensor Tendon and Mallet Finger Injuries

Common signs and symptoms of extensor tendon and mallet finger injuries include:

  • Inability to straighten the fingers or extend the wrist
  • Pain and swelling in fingertip
  • Recent trauma or laceration to the hand
  • Drooping of the end joint of the finger

Diagnosis of Extensor Tendon and Mallet Finger Injuries

Whether it takes place in an emergency room or office visit, a thorough physical examination and discussion of the patient’s medical history and symptoms will help diagnose extensor tendon and mallet finger injuries.

Additional imaging may also be needed to confirm the presence and extent of the injury:

  • X-ray: Images used to determine if fractures are present

Treatment of Extensor Tendon and Mallet Finger Injuries

We offer the latest treatment options available for patients with extensor tendon and mallet finger injuries. Splinting of the affected wrist and/or finger is the most common non-surgical treatment.

Surgical treatment for tendon injury is decided on a case-by-case basis. The procedure usually involves sewing the tendon back together, and sometimes a pin is placed in the finger to protect tendon repair. 

After treatment, physical therapy is very important to improve motion and maximize functional recovery of the hand.

Hand Therapy and Rehabilitation for Extensor Tendon and Mallet Finger Injuries

Therapy for extensor tendon and mallet finger injuries is provided on site at the University of Michigan’s Hand Program by our team of occupational and physical therapists under the direction of a trained hand therapist. Referrals to local providers can be arranged closer to home as a more convenient option for patients.

The ultimate goal of therapy and rehabilitation is the restoration and optimization of wrist and finger function, renewed independence and improved overall quality of life. We offer treatment plans that are tailored to fit each patient’s condition, living and work requirements:

  • Non-surgical option: For patients who do not require surgery but would benefit from therapy.
  • Post-operative rehabilitation: To help patients as they recover from surgical procedures.

Contact Us / Make an Appointment

If you are considering treatment for extensor tendon and mallet finger injuries, the University of Michigan hand surgeons will guide you, from consultation to recovery, to the best procedures for your individual needs. Our hand surgeons have dual appointments in Orthopaedic and Plastic Surgery with a specialization in Hand. Patients may be seen in the Orthopaedic Clinic or the Plastic Surgery clinic for treatment of hand conditions.

  • Orthopaedic Call Center, 734-998-6541
  • Plastic Surgery Hand Call Center, 734-998-6022

The University of Michigan Hand Program

Our team of specialists at the University of Michigan Hand Program is dedicated to providing comprehensive care for a variety of hand problems. From arthritis injuries, to congenital hand conditions, to the most complex reconstruction, our hand specialists approach each case individually, with a specific plan designed to maximize the restoration of both form and function. Depending on the types of hand conditions our patients face, our physicians will help determine the best therapies or procedures to maximize hand functionality and normal hand appearances. Visit the University of Michigan Hand Program page to learn more about the program and to contact our hand specialists.