Jammed Finger and Baseball

You hear the crack of the bat and see the ball coming your way, but when you reach for the catch, the ball jams your outstretched middle finger. You’ve just caught baseball finger, also known as mallet finger. Mallet finger can result from any situation in which the tip of the finger is jammed by a rapidly moving object, injuring the tendon on the back of the finger and sometimes even fracturing the bone.

For immediate treatment at home, apply ice to reduce swelling, clean any cuts under running water and wrap the finger with gauze, applying a moderate amount of pressure to help stop any bleeding. A physician can evaluate the severity of the injury and any cuts, repair any deep cuts, stitch minor ruptures of the tendon and determine whether the bone has been fractured. Often, treatment includes splinting for four to six weeks, keeping the finger extended (straight) and allowing the tendon to heal. Over-the-counter analgesics can ease the pain. If the tendon is severely damaged, surgery may be required. Fortunately, most cases of mallet finger respond to appropriate treatment and recover fully. However, the recovery period can leave the hand, shoulder and arm somewhat weak. A carefully supervised physical therapy exercise program can help restore strength and flexibility, as well as help you regain full use of the injured finger. Exercises include

  • Finger passive range of motion: Gently bend and straighten out the injured finger with assistance from your other hand.
  • Finger extension: With your palm flat on a table, lift each finger straight up one at a time, hold and then lower it; repeat for all five fingers.
  • Object pick-up: Pick up small objects, such as coins, marbles, pins or buttons, with the thumb and tip of the injured finger to improve dexterity.
  • Grip strengthening: Squeeze a soft rubber ball and hold the squeeze for five seconds to rebuild strength in the hand.
  • Shoulder and arm: These exercises will be added as you progress.

Once you regain strength and the full use of the injured finger, we can design an at-home exercise plan to maintain your finger and arm health. And the next time a fly ball comes
your way, make sure you catch with a glove.

Related Articles:

July PTEDigest Includes:

Baseball Finger: The Injury You Don’t Catch
Supplementing Treatment for Knee Osteoarthritis
Fitness: A Lifelong Commitment
Keep Your Head: Recovering from a Concussion
Redo for a Rotator Cuff Re-tear

Download PTD July 2015