Peanuts, Cracker Jacks, and Mallet Finger

Friday, May 5th, 2017

Northern Indiana Hand and Wrist

Spring time is here, and with it baseball! I’m always glad for the warm weather of May, the leaves on the trees, and that beautiful smell in the air. But I’m even happier to hear the sound of baseball on the radio while I drive, and the chance to review yesterday’s box score in the paper or online. Whether you root for an out-of-town team like my Mets, a hometown favorite like the Cubs, or an underdog like the White Sox the return of summer means the return of America’s pastime.

But its not all hot dogs and Cracker Jacks; baseball can be a dangerous sport, and it’s not only major leaguers that can end up on the disabled list. You or your child could easily get hurt, even if you take the precautions of warming up before exercise and playing within your ability. Some injuries are serious and others are trivial, but if you are still stiff, painful, and swollen a week or so after an injury it’s wise to get it checked out. An x-ray can reveal more damage than you had suspected or it can reassure you that nothing is broken, but ignoring an injury for too long is just hiding your head in the sand.

One injury that’s commonly seen among baseball and softball players is a mallet finger. Legend has it that Yankee great Yogi Berra had eight of these injuries:

Yogi Berra Hands Mallet Finger

A mallet finger is an avulsion of the extensor tendon from the bone at the base of the finger nail. If left untreated the finger will have a permanent flexion deformity at the tip: it will look like a hammer or a mallet. Surgery is rarely necessary, but the finger does need to be splinted in extension for 6-8 weeks full-time in a special splint. Full flexion and nearly full extension are usually restored. The splinting is tedious, but at least the weather is usually good.

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