Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Hand FAQ


Ok, what's the difference between the diagnoses of a trigger finger and a mallet finger? Why are they given these names?


The trigger finger and the mallet finger are both problems that involve not being able to straighten out the affected finger. The names reflect what the finger looks like. With a trigger finger, rings of body tissue that form a tunnel for the tendon to your finger become inflamed or thick. Because they are larger than they should be, the tendon can't slide through the rings easily and it catches, making a snapping or catching sensation. The finger could become locked in the bent "trigger" position. With a mallet finger, the tip of the finger is hit by something hard, most often a ball. This results in the joint closest to the tip of the finger being injured and, perhaps, the tendon pulling away from the bone. The finger then bends at that joint and needs to be straightened out. Jeffrey Pike, MD, et al. Blinded, Prospective, Randomized Clinical trial Comparing Volar, Dorsal, and Custom Thermoplastic Splinting in Treatment of Acute Mallet Finger. In Journal of Hand Surgery. April 2010. Vol. 35. No. 4. Pp. 580-588.

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