Finger joint pain can be uncomfortable and painful, affecting your ability to do basic activities. Though some types of joint pain don't need medical attention, severe and persistent pain may need professional treatment. In this article, I will share essential information about finger joint pain, its common causes, symptoms, treatments, and prevention tips.
What is Finger Joint Pain?
Finger joint pain is characterized by pain, swelling, and sometimes inflamed fingers which are caused by injuries or other underlying conditions. There are various treatments for finger joint pain and doctors administer specific treatments depending on the cause.
Who Gets Pain?
Everyone may experience finger joint pain sometime in his/her life, especially adults and seniors who had a history of a hand injury. Additionally, according to Colgate Talks, dental healthcare professionals also have a high risk of getting finger joint pain, specifically Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS).
Symptoms may include:
- Burning sensation
Note: Depending on the type and level of pain you feel, finger joint pain may be caused by a specific injury or medical condition.
Common Causes of Finger Joint Pain
To help you identify what’s the culprit for the pain in your finger joints, below is a list of the common causes of such pain and specific treatments for each.
Injury to the finger is one of the most common causes of finger joint pain. Common symptoms may include bruises, mild to sharp throbbing pain, and swelling.
People who work with heavy machinery and other devices that involve frequent lifting and hand movements are more at risk of getting finger injuries such as fractures, bone dislocation, sprain, and strain thus, resulting in finger joint pain.
Treatments for finger joint pain caused by injuries include:
- Ice packs - These will relieve bruises and swelling on the affected area.
- Rest - Most injuries on the fingers need time to heal and recover. During this phase, it’s important to avoid heavy activities that will strain the affected area.
- Compression - Firmly wrapping the affected area will help your recovery faster.
- Elevation - This means keeping the injured area above the heart to avoid pressure and reduce pain and swelling.
Finger joint pain could be an early sign of arthritis among older adults. Symptoms may include stiffness, pain, and swelling in the affected which gets worse when pressed or moved. Two types of arthritis that involve finger joint pain are Rheumatoid Arthritis and Osteoarthritis.
Treatments for this condition include:
- Pain relievers - Doctors may recommend taking OTC pain relievers.
- Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs - This may include medicines such as Ibuprofen, Naproxen, Diclofenac, Cilicoxeb, Mefenamic, and others.
- Corticosteroids - This is a type of anti-inflammatory drug for rheumatism which can be in the form of injections or pills.
- Physical Therapy - Physical therapy also helps in the recovery of the injury.
- Supportive Devices - Also known as assistive devices which help make tasks easier to do for people who have finger joint injuries.
- Lifestyle Changes - Limiting activities that can affect the muscles and tissues in your hand will help lessen your chance of experiencing finger joint pain.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS)
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) is the most common type of finger joint pain among dental health care professionals since their job requires frequent and precise hand movements to treat patients.
CTS primarily affects the hand’s median nerve. This nerve is responsible for the motor function in the forearm, wrist, and hand. People with CTS may experience numbness, stiffness, and weakness in these areas affecting movements and the ability to keep hold of objects.
To treat CTS, doctors may administer the following:
- Wearing a splint - Your doctor may require you to wear a splint to avoid overexertion and help make recovery faster.
- Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) - These may include OTC drugs like Naproxen or Ibuprofen.
- Avoiding activities that can strain the affected area - People with CTS may need to halt activities that may worsen the condition.
- Physical Therapy - Physical therapy is also a good choice for CTS patients.
- Steroid Injection - This is a common treatment for CTS and helps in alleviating pain and swelling in the affected area.
Tenosynovitis and Tendonitis
Another possible cause is problems in the tendons such as Tenosynovitis and Tendonitis. Tenosynovitis affects the tendon sheath, an outer membrane of the tendons wherein it becomes inflamed causing pain, stiffness, and swelling.
On the other hand, Tendonitis is characterized by inflamed tendons resulting in swelling and pain when being moved or pressed.
Both of these conditions are treatable by:
- Corticosteroid injections - Just like CTS, swelling, and pain in Tenosynovitis and Tendonitis can also be treated by corticosteroids.
- Surgery - This is an effective way to relieve pain and swelling by removing the pressure in your tendons.
- RICE therapy - RICE means the four essential remedies for muscle injuries which are: Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation which help reduce pressure, swelling, and pain in the area.
Diabetes can also affect your musculoskeletal system, specifically your hands, fingers, and feet. Examples of musculoskeletal conditions caused by Diabetes are Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and Diabetic Neuropathy.
Doctors treat these symptoms through:
- Physical therapy - This will help reduce the effect of the symptoms of finger joint pain caused by Diabetes.
- Lidocaine ointments - This is an effective ointment for alleviating pain by numbing the nerve endings of the affected area and the skin surrounding it.
Ganglion cysts don’t usually cause pain or swelling, however, cyst growths on your fingers and wrist may cause discomfort and weakness, while some say that it also feels painful.
Unfortunately, there’s still no known cure for ganglion cysts, but some doctors may treat them by draining or removing the cysts.
Below are other tips you should keep in mind.
- Give your hands some time to rest especially when performing heavy physical activities using your hands.
- Wear protective gear while working (e.g., gloves)
- Eat a well-balanced diet
- Maintain healthy weight
- Maintain healthy blood sugar levels
Mild cases of finger joint pain don’t necessarily need prescription medications because the pain usually clears out on its own. However, if you experience persistent and recurring pain in finger joints, it may be time to ask for help from a professional.