Do I Need Treatment For a Jammed Finger?
If you have injured your finger it is important to obtain a diagnosis as quickly as possible. There are many issues that it could be but if you have pain over the nail site, the tip of the finger is bent in towards your palm and you cannot extend the finger fully, then it is possible you have mallet finger. You will need to have this diagnosed properly in order for the best course of treatment to be prescribed. This is done by physical examination and x-ray to rule out fractures. Occasionally the damage will be more severe and will need surgical intervention, but the non-surgical approach of hand therapy and splinting is more common.
Treatment Of Mallet Finger
The most common treatment of mallet finger is immobilization of the finger. The finger will be splinted in a straight position. This will need to be for around 6 weeks for optimum benefit. However, the finger will need to be kept absolutely straight for the treatment to work. If the finger flexes forward at any point during this treatment plan, then the 6 weeks of treatment will need to start again. The treatment plan is not completed in 6 weeks – that is only the first phase of the intervention. You will need a further 4 weeks of hand therapy following this.
During the first 6-week phase you will receive a splint that should be worn all of the time, with the exception of times when you need to wash. You will need to pay special attention to your skin and ensure it is clean and dry before re-applying the splint. You will need to remember to keep your finger straight otherwise any healing may be reversed and you will need to start the 6 weeks again. Your hand therapist will advise you of any physical exercises you can do with your other joints in the meantime.
Once you have followed instructions for 6 weeks you will be able to move onto the next phase of treatment. This will include mobilizing the joint but you will still not be able to use the finger for any weight-bearing or gripping. You will still have to wear the splint at night and between exercises. Gradually you will start to reduce the length of time you wear the splint and your exercises will increase until such time as your finger is strengthened. During this time you may need your hand therapist to adjust the splint, especially if there are issues with ill-fitting or sliding.