Boutonnière deformity (BD) prevents straightening of the finger. The disorder affects the finger’s system of tendons. The tendons allow a person to flex and straighten his or her finger.
In BD, the tendon on the top of the finger (called the central slip) is torn or cut from the other tendons. This creates a tear that resembles a buttonhole (or boutonnière in French). The first finger joint is forced down and the fingertip bends back at the second joint. The tendons on this part of the finger are flat and thin. They are prone to injury. BD in the thumb affects a joint called the metacarpophalangeal (MCP).
BD can be caused by:
- A powerful blow to the finger
- A cut to the finger’s central slip
- An injury to the first finger joint—called the proximal interphalangeal (PIP) joint
- A severe burn on the hand
Factors that may increase the risk of developing BD include:
Symptoms may include:
You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done, paying close attention to:
- Muscle strength
- Joint damage
- Range of motion
- Presence of swelling
- Evidence of infection
- Tenderness in the finger
An x-ray may be done to see if you have a fracture.
Treatment options include the following:
The following medications may be advised:
- Corticosteroids—to reduce inflammation
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)—to reduce pain and inflammation
For milder cases, the treatment is nonsurgical and may involve:
- Applied to the middle joint to fully extend it
- Used for 3-6 weeks
- Stretching and strengthening exercises
- Other techniques: massage, ultrasound therapy, electrical stimulation
If the finger does not improve, surgery may be needed.
Surgery is needed in severe cases. For example, when the tendon is cut or when the deformity has lasted a long time. Surgery generally does not return the finger to the way it was working before the injury. But, there may be some improvement. After surgery, exercises can help to strengthen the finger.
To help reduce your chance of getting BD:
- Wear the proper equipment when playing sports.
- If you have rheumatoid arthritis, ask you doctor about ways to protect your joints.
- Reviewer: EBSCO Medical Review BoardTeresa Briedwell, PT, DPT, OCS, CSCS
- Review Date: 09/2017 -
- Update Date: 08/10/2015 -