Finger Extensor Tendon Injury
(Mallet Finger; Boutonniere Deformity)
by Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
An extensor tendon injury is damage to the tissues on the back of the hand and fingers. It can make it hard for you to open your hand and straighten your fingers. The 2 types of this injury are:
Extensor tendon injuries may be caused by:
This injury is more common in men and people who are middle-aged. Things that can raise the risk are:
Symptoms may be:
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. The doctor will ask how the injury happened. The finger and hand will be checked. A doctor who treats bones or hands may be needed.
A splint will be needed to protect the finger as it heals. Other options are:
Medicine may be given to ease pain. Antibiotics may be used to treat an infection.
Some people may need surgery to repair the tendon. Exercises will also be given to help with finger strength and motion.
This injury happens due to accidents. There are no guidelines to prevent it.
American Society for Surgery of the Hand
Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
Canadian Orthopaedic Association
Trauma Association of Canada
Extensor tendon injuries. American Society for Surgery of the Hand website. Available at:
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Published 2014. Accessed September 23, 2019.
Leggit JC, Meko CJ. Acute finger injuries: part I. Tendons and ligaments. Am Fam Physician. 2006 Mar 1;73(5):810-816.
Mallet finger. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/mallet-finger. Updated June 5, 2017. Accessed September 23, 2019.
Last reviewed September 2019 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Teresa Briedwell, PT, DPT, OCS, CSCS
Last Updated: 7/14/2020
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