Mallet Finger – Presentation, Symptoms, Treatment Options


Mallet Fingerpic
Mallet Finger

As chair of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and head of hand and upper extremity surgery with the University of Virginia Health System, Dr. Bobby Chhabra draws on diverse experience in treating sports injuries. Dr. Bobby Chhabra also applies this expertise as a faculty member in the university’s sports medicine fellowship program, primary care sports medicine program, and hand fellowship programs.

Mallet finger is an injury commonly seen by hand and sports medicine specialists. Known colloquially as “baseball finger,” it is a regular occurrence in athletes whose sports of choice involve throwing or catching balls, although it can occur when any hard object hits the tip of a finger and forces it past its normal range of motion.

Anatomically, mallet finger results when the force of impact ruptures the extensor tendon in the finger. This causes swelling and bruising as well as pain in the affected area. The injury also causes the fingertip to become stuck in a drooped position, the patient being rendered unable to move it normally.

Most cases of mallet finger must receive medical treatment, as the injured digit may become permanently disfigured. Treatment is particularly important for children, in whom the injury may involve cartilage that plays a key role in bone growth.

Mild to moderate cases of mallet finger are often treatable with splinting, which is usually required for approximately eight weeks. If the injury involves bone fractures, fragmentation, or a subluxed joint, surgical repair may be necessary. This requires the introduction of surgical pins, which hold the bone in place to facilitate healing.

The UVA Hand Center

UVA Hand Center pic
UVA Hand Center

On the Best Doctors in America List for the last eight years, Dr. Bobby Chhabra is the Lilian T. Pratt Distinguished Professor and chair of the Department of Orthopaedics at the University of Virginia (UVA) Health System. Dr. Bobby Chhabra, who has expertise in hand surgery, played a leading role in the establishment of the UVA Hand Center.

Specializing in every disorder of the elbow, wrist, and hand, the UVA Hand Center is a one-of-a-kind collaboration between the departments of plastic surgery and orthopaedics. The center is located in Charlottesville, Virginia, and treats a broad range of ailments including sports injuries, arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, complex fractures, congenital hand differences, and neurovascular injuries.

Possessing its own onsite radiology suite that is staffed with radiologists specializing in diagnostic studies, interventional procedures, and musculoskeletal imaging, the center provides a team approach where in one location a patient can have access to trained specialists from the various fields of healthcare. The center is one of UVA Health System’s busiest and most successful clinics.

Many Hand and Upper Extremity Injuries Tied to Power Saw, Axe Use


Bobby Chhabra pic
Bobby Chhabra

Holding leadership responsibilities within the University of Virginia (UVA) Health System, Dr. Bobby Chhabra serves as team physician with UVA Athletics. Experienced in repetitive motion injuries, Dr. Bobby Chhabra treats patients with conditions of the upper extremities and hand.

Recent research points to increased risk for hand and finger injury among those who use woodcutting equipment around the home. As reported in Reuters, the period between 2006 and 2016 witnessed more than 16,000 nonfatal visits to emergency departments due to power saw injuries and nearly 2,000 related to axes.

A majority of those involving power saws were associated with the phenomenon of kickback, where the rotating chain hits a hard object while in fast motion and creates a strong, sudden opposing force. This can impact the device operator’s ability to control the power saw, and result in lacerations. With axes, the issue ties to swinging mechanics, with the momentum generated through the body easily leading to shoulder back, wrist, hand, and elbow injuries.

Medical professionals urge those using such equipment to wear proper protective gear, and to avoid high-risk jobs.

Lillian T. Pratt – Generous Benefactor of Virginia Institutions


Lillian T. Pratt pic
Lillian T. Pratt

Bobby Chhabra, MD, maintains a number of appointments in the University of Virginia Health System, including chair of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery. A board-certified orthopaedic hand surgeon, Bobby Chhabra, MD, holds the distinction of being the health system’s Lillian T. Pratt Distinguished Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery.

The professorship is named in honor of a generous benefactor of education and art institutions who established a trust agreement with the University of Virginia prior to her death in 1947. The professorship was created with assistance from Lillian Pratt’s estate in 1976.

Many aspects of Lillian Pratt’s life remain unknown, but she is believed to have been born in 1876, most likely in Philadelphia. By the turn of the century, she had made her way to Tacoma, Washington, where she worked as a stenographer and met John Lee Pratt, an engineer and executive at General Motors. Mr. Pratt became Lillian’s husband in 1917, and the couple eventually settled in Virginia.

For much of the rest of her life, Lillian Pratt pursued a passion for collecting Russian and Faberge art. By 1946, her collection had grown to 475 items, the majority of which she purchased from galleries in New York City.

Lillian Pratt established a trust agreement with the University of Virginia in 1943 and subsequently extended her generosity to the Virginia Museum of Fine Art. In 1947, two months after Lillian Pratt’s death, the museum received her Faberge collection, which visitors to the museum can view today.