Finger Joint Pain

August 24, 2022

Finger Joint Pain

Finger joint pain is a common condition affecting those of all ages and gender. Some patients experience pain when moving the finger or when pressure is placed on it, while others feel a tightness in one or more fingers, or even their whole hand. The condition is particularly noticeable in the mornings, with patients often unable to make a fist with their hands due to the discomfort, although some cases can involve severe pain and joint stiffness. Finger joint pain can be caused by numerous factors.

Common causes of finger joint pain

  1. Tendon strains are most common in those who rely on using their fingers for their job, especially when working on computers, doing housework, cooking, or gardening. Women and the obese are most at risk of developing tendon strains, which are characterized by an inability to make a tight fist in the morning, but with this symptom tending to go away after a little while. Additionally, the joint does not tend to swell, nor is it painful when flexed or pressed.
  2. Stage one trigger finger may involve finger joint pain in 1 or 2 fingers, usually at its worst in the morning. This condition may make movement of the fingers difficult, although this tends to ease off as the day goes on.
  3. Sprained joints can also cause pain, with such injuries often resulting from playing sport or from overuse. Sprains may or may not involve swelling and pain when pressed, although the joint tends be painful when being flexed, while some patients may also find it difficult to bend their fingers, especially the middle finger.
  4. Rheumatoid and psoriatic arthritis can affect various fingers and their joints, with fingers often prone to swelling for a period of over 6 weeks. In the initial stage, swelling will be less serious and mostly apparent in the morning, occurring alongside stiffness in the fingers that could take 1–2 hours to ease.
  5. Osteoarthritis may involve finger joint pain affecting one or more fingers at the same time, while the condition usually involves bone protrusions or swelling alongside a dull pain that lasts for quite some time, but which tends to ease with rest.

Which treatments can be effective if symptoms are not severe?

  1. Rest the affected finger and try not to use it repeatedly before it has fully recovered and is free from pain when bent.
  2. Use a cool compression where the pain results from playing sport, or a hot compression if there is pain but no sign of injury.
  3. Take some non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, such as Ibuprofen or paracetamol.
  4. Use a menthol-based cream or capsaicin gel but beware of medicine allergies.
If these steps have not been successful in alleviating the condition, seek medical attention for further diagnostics, e.g. an x-ray or blood test. The results of this diagnostic process will then be used to rule out other disorders and inform any subsequent treatment.

Authors: Dr. Surachai Rattanasaereekiat is an orthopedic surgeon at Orthopaedic Center Bumrungrad. Dr. Surachai is currently a hand and trauma Specialist at Bumrungrad, specializing in upper extremity and trauma fracture surgery.

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