Post Operative Instructions
The Mallet finger deformity causes a droop of the fingertip. This is caused by an injury to the extensor tendon at the last finger joint. The treatment requires patience and strict adherence to the splinting instructions in order to allow the tendon to heal.
You will be sent to Hand Therapy for a "Tip Protector" which is a splint made for you. This splint will keep your fingertip straight. You must wear it full-time for at least 6 weeks – never allowing the tip to bend during that time period. It is important to move the middle joint of that finger while wearing the splint.
What about showers and bathing?
You must wear the splint full time. You may remove the splint to dry your hand. Place your hand flat on a surface, drying the fingertip, without allowing it to bend. Be sure to dry the inside the splint as well.
What about sleeping?
Always wear the splint full time when you sleep. When we sleep, all of us naturally curl up our fingers without realizing it. In fact, after the initial 6-week healing period, you will need to sleep in the splint for another 2 months.
Will I need to go to Hand Therapy?
Other than having the splint made, you do not need to go to therapy during the 6- week healing period.
What about activity restrictions?
You already know by now that you have to wear your tip protector fulltime. So, no lifting, pushing or pulling is allowed with the affected finger. After the 6-week healing period, you will be given detailed instructions on weaning the splint (with guidance of staff). When you have heavy work to do after the tendon heals, you will need to wear the tip protector for the first month.
How do I wean from the splint?
Weaning will occur after the 6-week healing period and after your follow up visit if you are maintaining extension in the fingertip. For the first 2 weeks after your tendon injury has healed, you may remove the tip protector at home in the evening for 6 hours at a time. You may do normal household activities, but try not to bend the fingertip. If you must do heavy work, you will need to wear the tip protector. Wear the tip protector at night while you sleep.
During weeks 3 and 4, you may do your normal activities without the splint during daytime hours. Again, you must still sleep in your splint. If your occupation requires heavy bending and lifting with your fingers, you should continue to wear the tip protector at work.
At week 5, you may consider sleeping out of the splint every other night. If you are maintaining extension at the tip of the finger, you may continue to sleep out of the splint.