Finger Pain

Finger pain refers to any discomfort you experience in the joints or tissues of your fingers. The severity may vary, but the pain is usually described as aching, throbbing, tingling, stiffness or soreness.

What Causes Finger Pain?

Your finger is made up of bones, nerves, muscles, blood vessels and skin. The point where two bones meet is called a finger joint and it consists of ligaments, cartilage, tendons, and fluid-filled sacs called bursas. These finger joints will also have synovial membranes and fluid whose job is to keep your joints lubricated. You can feel pain sensation due to an irregularity or inflammation to any of these structures in your finger. The inflammation, irritation and pain can be the outcome of several mild to severe health conditions or diseases.

1. Injury-Related Causes

Any direct injury to your hand may be a predominant cause of finger pain. Injuries can damage the skin or hurt the bone. Sometimes, the muscle and tissue will get damaged and lead to pain in fingers. Here are some of the most common injury-related causes of finger pain:

  • Abrasion
  • Stress fracture
  • Crush injury
  • Blunt force trauma
  • Splinter
  • Repetitive stress injury
  • Common strain

Moreover, you may experience pain in your fingers because of a degloving injury that damages and separates the top layer of tissue from your finger.

2. Degenerative, Inflammatory and Infectious Causes

A number of degenerative or infectious conditions can cause pain in the fingers. For instance:

  • Osteoarthritis, age-related tear or other similar conditions may cause pain.
  • Inflammation of a bursa sac may produce finger or joints pain.
  • Invasive skin infections like cellulitis can affect your fingers and cause pain.
  • Any swelling on top of a tendon due to ganglion cyst or benign growth may cause pain.
  • A Staphylococcus aureus bacterial infection can cause severe finger pain.
  • Infection around the nail, such as paronychia, can be a reason behind your finger pain.
  • Septic arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis cause inflammation and pain in fingers.

3. Nerve-Related Causes

When finger pain is combined with numbness or tingling in the fingers, this is usually a sign of a moderate to serious condition that's damaging your nerves. This may happen due to the following conditions:

  • Carpal tunnel syndrome in which the nerve in your wrist area are compressed due to wear and tear or repetitive activity.
  • Cervical spondylosis or degenerative disc disease in the neck may cause nerve damage.
  • Any neck injury will affect the nerve and ultimately cause pain and numbness in your fingers.
  • Nerve compression or entrapment may well be the underlying cause of pain in your fingers.

Sometimes, your finger pain is the offshoot of some other conditions that affect your nervous system. These may include:

  • Excessive drinking (alcoholism)
  • Lead poisoning
  • Nerve damage due to diabetes
  • Underactive thyroid
  • Neuroma in the finger
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Spinal cord tumor or injury
  • Vitamin B12 deficiency
  • Multiple sclerosis which affects your brain and spinal cord
  • Transverse myelitis that leads to the inflammation of the spinal cord
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus, a disorder where the body kills healthy cells

4. Other Causes

Some other health conditions may also be the ones to blame for your severe finger pain. The list includes the following:

  • Reduced blood circulation
  • Buerger's disease
  • Extremely cold temperatures
  • Raynaud's disease that reduces blood flow through spasms of blood vessels of your toes and fingers

How to Relieve Finger Pain at Home

You can relieve finger pain by taking certain steps at home. Here's how:

  • Avoid specific activities that cause or aggravate pain.
  • Take sufficient rest after injury to let your joints recover.
  • Stick to mild stretching exercises to keep your joints moving and don't stretch forcefully.
  • Switch to less stressful activities, for example, gripping a big handle will be less stressful than a small handle.
  • Avoid heavy painkillers to mask the pain. This often makes you forget about the pain and you keep performing the same activity that has led to the pain in the first place.
  • Make use of prescribed anti-inflammatory medication to relieve pain in fingers.
  • Olive oil has the potential to prevent proinflammatory enzymes and is a good way of relieving painful finger joints.
  • Using honey and cinnamon will speed the healing process, as honey contains antiseptic qualities and cinnamon offers antioxidants required for relieving painful joints.
  • Soak your fingers in Epsom salts to reduce inflammation and pain.

How Is Finger Pain Treated Medically?

Home remedies often help reduce pain, but sometimes you need to consult your doctor to treat your condition medically. This is usually the case when an injury leads to finger pain and the swelling or the pain persists after 2 weeks of home treatment. You need to look for a medical treatment if you witness tingling and numbness in your fingers or you find it difficult to straighten your fingers.

Your doctor will prescribe painkillers to make your finger pain manageable. He will also look for the underlying cause to identify the best way of treating your condition. Depending upon the causes, they may suggest other treatments, such as hand exercises, gear-like splints or surgery. 

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