From 1968 to 1987, 22 patients were diagnosed with dysfunctioning digits after complete distal digital amputations. Each patient had the proximal portion of the partially amputated phalanx left within the injured digit. On average, 21 months after the initial injury, each patient underwent an excision of the remnant portion of the phalanx which averaged 6 mm (range 1 to 17 mm). All 22 patients reported excellent postoperative results of full function and no residual pain with an average follow up of 9 months. We theorized that localized synovitis produces joint pain related to: 1) nontolerated joint stress loading due to a change in the lever arm length of the amputated phalanx, or 2) inadequate cartilage nutrition owing to lack of stress applied to this joint. Maintaining digital length must be rethought with emphasis placed on painless function. Considering the losses to these patients in terms of time, employment, and money, a distal remnant measuring 4 mm or less should be excised, regardless of the digit, at the time of the injury.