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Why Can't I Straighten the Tip of My Finger?


If you have a droopy fingertip and are unable to straighten it using your own muscles, you may have a mallet finger. It is often the result of the tip of your finger being hit by an object, often a ball. This injury is commonly seen in netball and football, although can be caused by something as simple as pulling on clothing.

When a mallet finger occurs the tendon that attaches to the top part of your finger, allowing it to straighten, pulls away from the bone. Sometimes the tendon pulls a small piece of bone away with it. Therefore you are left with a finger that will not stay straight.

It is important to seek treatment early. As this is often not a very painful injury, people often wait to see if it will heal on its own. Unfortunately, when the finger is left drooping the little tendon is unable to reach the spot it pulled away from, so it will not heal by itself. 

Treatment involves wearing a small custom made splint to hold the droopy part of your finger straight, and allow the tendon to reattach to its end point. While this is usually a straightforward injury to treat, it does require you to wear the splint all the time for 6-8 weeks. During your appointment you will be shown how to safely remove the splint to enable you to clean your finger, and we will address any swelling you may have. When you can start to remove the splint you will be provided with exercises if your finger is stiff, and make sure you are able to return to completing all of your daily activities, including sport.

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