This blog post may be an unpopular opinion among some people. Nonetheless, I feel is a very important issue to discuss .
Over many years working in the field of hand and arm rehabilitation, I think it is time to address a question I have heard over and over again and that is:
Can my chiropractor fix my mallet finger?
I’m not sure why people choose to go to a chiropractor for a hand injury. I guess it is because they saw their chiropractor for their back or hip and thought they could help with their finger. Perhaps they spoke to their chiropractor and were told they needed to see them in order to heal. I don’t just get asked if a chiropractor can fix a mallet but similar questions and concerns are:
My chiropractor wants to adjust my finger, will this help?
My chiropractor says my finger is out of alignment. How do I know if it is?
My chiropractor says I have a lot of scar tissue and they need to break it up for my finger to heal.
I’ve also heard from fellow hand therapists around the world that some people with mallet finger injuries have repeatedly gone to their chiropractor for months and months. Only to be left with a finger that is NOT healed and without proper treatment.
Largely, because they were told chiropractic care would fix their finger. The hand therapist is then the barer of bad news because the longer you have the injury the less likely you are to have a good outcome.
Now, I don’t want this post to sound as if I am anti chiropractors. Because I am not. But I am against any professional misleading anyone with in correct, unproven techniques to heal someone’s finger.
Let’s think this through together.
Your finger is NOT out of alignment. The droop is happening because the tendon is not attached!
Your tendon that attaches to the distal phalanx bone- aka fingertip bone- has been torn away from where it inserts.
This is typically known as a mallet finger.
This can happen when the tendon is avulsed off the distal phalanx with or without a piece of bone. There is a lot more to a mallet finger and you can read more here to learn What is a Mallet Finger.
I guess in a round about way you could say the finger is out of alignment. It’s not in the correct position, right?
I am sorry, but no adjustment or re alignment can magically make your fingertip heal or get put back in. Your fingertip will droop again because it needs a splint to hold it in the right position.
Unfortunately, chiropractors will tell you they can adjust your finger, or massage, or manipulate your finger better.
I’ve heard it all.
They most certainly can try to align your finger all they want. In fact, I am sure you have already tried your hardest to get that fingertip straight. But it won’t stay that way and no chiropractor will be able to do that either.
So to clarify this is not a post against chiropractors in general. Not all chiropractors try to treat mallet fingers this way however, it is happening a lot. Hence the reason I felt the need to create this post.
Unfortunately, I have heard stories like this from many clients. And I have heard it from colleagues of mine that only treat hand injuries such as mallet fingers. They have seen it too.
I truly want to help save you time and money. But more importantly make sure you are getting the right treatment.
One thing in common, is that after all the so called treatment to the mallet finger- it is still not better. And they are left with a droopy finger that they are still dealing with and now if will take twice as long.
So I say this kindly, but also from 16+ years of experience working with the hand, see a hand surgeon or hand therapist for your mallet finger injury.
Because…NO, your chiropractor can not fix your mallet finger.