• Disruption of the extensor mechanism at the distal interphalangeal (DIP) joint
  • Leads to a flexion deformity.
  • This is known as mallet finger. 


  • A direct blow to a finger tip which is rigidly held in extension.
  • Causes a sudden flexion at the distal interphalangeal (DIP) joint of the finger causing:
  1. The rupture of the lateral slips of the extensor mechanism
  2. An avulsion fracture of the base of the distal phalanx,
  • e.g. a baseball or a volleyball injury 

Clinical Features

  1. The finger remains flexed at the DIP joint (distal interphalangeal).
  2. There no active extension but passive extension is possible.
  3. Tenderness and minimal swelling is present in acute cases.


  • Soft tissue injuries are treated by mallet finger splints and,
  • Immobilized for a period of three weeks followed by gradual mobilization.

  • Different splints are available.
  • Avulsion fractures are fixed by using K-wires/pull-out sutures.

Exam Important

  • Mallet finger is Avulsion fracture of extensor tendon of distal phalanx.
  • ‘Mallet finger’ is a common traumatic lesion resulting in flexion deformity of distal interphalangeal joint.
  • Avulsion of extensor tendon give rise to Mallet finger.
  • The basic pathology of Mallet finger condition is Rupture of collateral slips of extensor expansion.
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