Slightly over a year ago, I tore a tendon in my finger, and naturally I wrote about it at the time. Since then, I’ve been aware that I never updated you all about how effective the treatment had been. When I got the splint taken off, the finger was too stiff to bend much at all and it was hard to tell how straight it was going to end up. I know that most of you lot couldn’t care less but I get quite a few hits on that post even now, probably from people who’ve also got a mallet finger, so I thought I’d do a quick update, by way of a public service.

One of the nice things about having the blog is that you’re reminded of all sorts of things you’d forgotten. When the splint came off and the stiffness had subsided, I didn’t really think the results were all that impressive. The finger was still pretty bent and although I could straighten it with a bit of effort, it never really matched the rest of the hand. For a while I found I was still pretty clumsy with it (even more clumsy than normal, that is). I felt that by stupidly leaving it for so long before I got it treated that I’d really left it too late. All the discomfort of wearing the splint was in vain and I would be left with a permanently disfigured hand. The fact that it was my dominant hand was just the cherry on the cake.

Then, a few weeks ago, I happened across the original posting and realised why some of my readers had found the picture so disturbing. Eek! That looked awful! Looking at my damaged hand, I realised that actually it wasn’t quite so damaged after all. In fact it’s pretty good, considering. I don’t know if it gradually got better, or if I just had too high expectations. Sure it’s never going to win any prizes in any ‘straightest finger’ competition. But on the other hand (no, wait, on the original … oh, you know what I mean) I was demonstrating it to my brother in law last weekend while we were having one of those competitive ‘who’s got the most pointless sporting injuries’ conversations and he couldn’t even work out which finger had been hurt. It turns out that time really does heal all wounds, eventually.*

But I’ll let you be the judge. Ye of squeamish dispositions, perhaps you shouldn’t look below the jump. The rest of you, compare and contrast away. And if you’ve come here because you tore your finger and you’re wondering if it’s worth getting it fixed a month after the event – be reassured

mallet finger
Though I still recommend getting to your GP a little quicker than that if you can.

*And if that’s not the motto of the NHS, perhaps it should be


20 Responses to De-Malleted

  1. Kim says:

    I can confirm your tweet was correct, this possibly your dullest post yet…

  2. disgruntled says:

    Quite an achievement, when you consider some of them

  3. Rebecca says:

    It’s all relative, I found it quite interesting. Particularly the fact that, while your finger was healing, you seemed to have lost a little weight and gotten a tan. In February. In Scotland.

    Even aside from that, though, I think it’s very encouraging that such results can be had even after waiting too long to see a medical professional. I’m sure many people reaching your blog about that particular even will be very hopeful…and you know what that means.

    Karma points for you.

    In addition to clearing out the road not very long ago, you’re becoming a regular little helpful fairy. And, remember, all those karma points are worth mega free calories. Plus, good stuff happening to you when you need it. I’m pretty sure that’s how all of that works. So you can treat yourself if there are any treats to be had around the house at the moment.

  4. I’ve got a mallet finger as well. Left little finger in my case. About the same severity now as yours. You didn’t notice mine and I didn’t notice yours. Mine happened 25 years ago. It didn’t change much after the first year. It has not affected my playing of the piano (which I though it might), nor any other activity. I also left it some time before getting it into a splint, and went through all the same thinking as you – “Why did I leave it so long – it will be a permanent disaster because I didn’t get it seen to immediately”. They are very common.

    At first I thought your Tweet could be about Malet Street London WC1, which we visited on the Infrastructure Safari. I have never known why they mis-spelt the word in that street name. There are lots of examples in Brent of mis-spelled street names, like Salusbury Road and Chamberlayne Road. But I digress.

    • Frits B says:

      Just being pedantic: Wikipedia says “named after Sir Edward Malet who was married to Lady Ermyntrude Sackville Russell, daughter of Francis Russell, 9th Duke of Bedford who owned much of the surrounding area.”

  5. disgruntled says:

    Rebecca – I think that tan must be a trick of the light! And as for the weight – last year I’d just spent 3 weeks in the US which is not all that conducive to healthy eating…

    David – glad to hear about the piano. I still can’t play the ukulele – but then again, I couldn’t before I got the mallet finger either.

  6. Gareth says:

    Following your twitter request (and because I’m too lazy to sign up to the cycling embassy site), a quick rough translation….


    The bollards that prevent cars from driving on to bicycle lanes can be extremely dangerous.

    They are a major cause of accidents involving bicycles. Every year there are 50 deaths and 46,000 injuries and 1 in 4 of them involve these bollards according to a group of researchers from the university of Groningen.

    Many of the bollards are positioned badly such as immediately after a bend or in areas of poor visibility, some have inappropriate colours, “We encountered brown and even black ones, who thinks of this stuff?” said Dik de Waard of the traffic research group.

    The bollards are usually placed out of a sense of tradition, “Its thought that if there is a cycle path, there must be bollards.” Originally intended to protect the cyclist from motorists, they now seem to have little benefit concludes De Waard. “Not everywhere, but in most places they should be removed.”

    As an example, De Waard points out that during the autumn, when municipal services need access to tend plants and grass verges, the bollards are often temporarily removed. There are very few motorists who try to drive onto the cycle paths then according to De Waard.

    The Bollards are especially fatal for the elderly. They generally have poorer eyesight, and a collision with a bollard is more likely to be fatal. Some municipalities, including Amersfoort and Goes, have stated that as a result of the investigation they will remove unnecessary bollards.


    I believe this is about those metal bollards, which are typically dark brown or dark green or even black. Some districts of Amsterdam have already removed them as far as I am aware (there is a website that sells them I believe).

    Post that on the cycling embassy website, maybe I’ll take the time to join it sometime.


    • Frits B says:

      May I add that the dark metal bollards for obvious reasons known as Amsterdammertjes are mainly used to keep cars off the pavement. The ones used on cycle paths are either concrete and not removable, or red and white removable metal tubes. The concrete ones are the main culprits in this story. Hardly visible and low. And particularly prone to being hit by elderly cyclists on e-bikes – who ride faster and forget where the brake is.
      Bollards can be very useful. There was a story last summer about a government consultant who lives in an affluent suburb of The Hague and has his place of work in The Hague. To get there he needs to join a very busy highway, so to save time he usually takes the direct cyclepath, in his SUV. The man was stupid enough to boast about this smart move in a newspaper interview, so I suppose the “feedback” has now driven him back onto the road.

  7. Gareth says:

    Hmm, I’m sure Utrecht has some of the older style metal bollards too. Tradition dictates that they either lean, be bent or otherwise have a dent in them.

  8. emma c says:

    Very interesting, honestly. Thanks for the update on positive progress. Looks like a different hand. 🙂

  9. Anonymous says:

    i ‘m enlightened and a bit optimistic about my own mallel finger injury. thanks for sharing.

  10. Karen Melaas says:

    Welcoming myself into the mallet finger club here. I went almost immediately to an urgent care center run by a local renowned hospital. Not a good idea! The doc diagnosed the finger as an infected cuticle after 2 xrays were taken. A week later, I have seen a hand specialist who has my middle right finger of my dominant hand in a splint now, one that points upward. The whole ordeal is a minor nuisance in the scope of all that is life.

    The hand doc says to wear the splint 24/7 for a full month. Then we’ll talk again, about pins or some other repair surgery. He didn’t sound as if he thought this was going to work, but maybe, since we caught it early, I will be among the luckier ones. I figure we have three options, so we’re starting with the least invasive.

    Mallet fingers unite! Just stumbled upon your post and thought I would make a stop.

    Thanks for sharing your story.

  11. disgruntled says:

    Hope it works out for you – as long as you’re not hoping for perfection then the splinting does seem to work, even after a few weeks delay

  12. Anonymous says:

    Hi everyone , i like to share my mallet finger story that is happening with me at the meantime. The incident happened to me in 18’th of january , i wore the splint the next day 19th of january and removed it in 20th of march i was very happy when i took it of , but i wasn’t impressed by the result because , my finger i still bent or dropped down a bit , swelling is all over my finger ,plus my finger feel’s stiff. although i can move my finger freely but i can’t make a fist with my hand. My qusetion is my situation normal and why does my finger look twice as big as normal finger and why it’s still bent. Thank

    • Rick Ohnsman says:

      After eight weeks my splint has come off. I acted on this promptly, the splint was on hours after the initial injury and I saw the hand surgeon within that first week. Now on Day 2 of the post-splint period the finger, (my middle one on the right hand) is quite swollen. The whole finger curves down and the tip a bit more at 5-degrees of so. I’m still hopeful that when the swelling subsides (how long for that?) that I’ll gain flexibility and full use again. Too early to tell. I followed the recommended procedure to the “T”, but even at that, it would seem few if any people see a 100% straight and “normal” finger again after this injury. It’s too bad splinting is the only way to allow the tendon to repair as I’m not sure that 8-weeks of immobility may not cause more problems than were there to begin with.

  13. disgruntled says:

    Er, I’m not a doctor so I suggest you consult your GP! The stiffness and swelling did take a bit of time to go down though

    • Anonymous says:

      I see , i can handle the swelling and stiffness but ,what bothers me is that the docter told me that the drop finger look is normal,although i wore the splint for 2 month just to get the best result , i know that it wont look like it used to be but as a close as possible. Anyways thanks for your reply plus i already have an appointed tomorrow with another docter.

  14. […] sure he must have heard me singing in the shower) since the mallet finger incident. The finger is long healed, but the uke never quite got taken up again – at least until now. Could this be the prompt […]

  15. I find this very interesting as I have a mallet finger injury — on right hand – finger on left of little finger.
    It happened when I was changing the bedsheets and somehow my hand knocked hard against the wooden end of the bed.
    Four days to see a Orthopedist (the hand specialist was not available for two months!)
    6 weeks in a splint and then 2 weeks at night – then exercises — but it will never be straight again and I am just trying to work out whether to carry on typing with 3 fingers of right hand or force it back into action .. which feels awkward as it is slightly bent … Time will tell..
    Because I am in U.S. I didn’t actually get in to see a hand surgeon until 4 months after the original accident. He said I could re-splint and go through 2 months of that, followed by another 4 weeks’ splinting at night and then exercises- but it might not make any difference .. So I am going to just learn to live with it !!

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