Conservative treatment of mallet finger: A systematic review

J Hand Ther. 2015 Jul-Sep;28(3):237-45; quiz 246. doi: 10.1016/j.jht.2015.03.001. Epub 2015 Mar 10.


Purpose: To determine if there is a superior orthosis and wearing regimen for the conservative treatment of mallet finger injuries. The secondary purpose is to examine the current evidence to evaluate if a night orthosis is necessary following the initial immobilization phase.

Methods: A comprehensive literature search was conducted using the search terms mallet finger, splint, orthosis, and conservative treatment.

Results: Four randomized controlled trials (RCTs) were included in the systematic review. In all 4 RCTs mallet fingers were immobilized continuously for 6 weeks in acute injuries and 8 weeks for chronic injuries.

Conclusions: Two of the three studies found a large effect size for orthotic intervention ranging from 2.17 to 12.12. Increased edema and age and decreased patient adherence seem to negatively influence DIP extension gains. Recommended immobilization duration is between 6 to 8 weeks and with additional weeks of immobilization in cases of persistent lags.

Level of evidence: 1a.

Keywords: Conservative treatment; Extensor tendon; Mallet finger; Orthosis.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Finger Injuries / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Orthotic Devices*
  • Tendon Injuries / therapy*