Causes and Treatments for Finger Pain
Read on to learn more about possible causes of finger pain and how to treat them.
Finger pain can occur as a result of various injuries, including:
- broken finger or stress fracture
- contusion or abrasion
- crush injury
- injury due to degloving, or separation of the skin and top layer of tissue from the finger
- repetitive stress injury
- splinter or other foreign body in the finger
- sprain or strain
You may be able to treat minor finger injuries at home. Resting the finger, applying an ice pack, and taking OTC pain relief medications may help resolve the pain. However, more severe injuries may require a doctor’s attention. For example, breaks or fractures may need surgical repair or a cast. Severe lacerations may need stitches.
Infections may also cause finger pain. Possible infections include:
- cellulitis, an invasive skin infection that can spread to the surrounding tissues
- paronychia, an infection around the nail
- septic arthritis, an infectious form of arthritis
Doctors typically prescribe antibiotics to treat infections affecting the finger. These antibiotics may be topical or oral. Doctors may also need to
Finger pain may result from conditions that cause progressive damage.
Osteoarthritis is the
When the discs in your spine wear down, you can develop a condition called cervical spondylosis. In severe cases, the pain from this condition may radiate through the arm to the hand and fingers. Pain that originates in one part of the body and spreads to other regions is called referred pain.
Doctors usually recommend medications and physical therapy to treat degenerative conditions. If these treatments are ineffective or the conditions cause serious complications, you may need surgery.
Finger pain can occur with certain inflammatory conditions, including:
- bursitis, or inflammation of the bursa sac that protects and cushions joints
- rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disease that causes chronic joint inflammation
- Buerger’s disease, which is acute inflammation and clotting of arteries and veins
- systemic lupus erythematosus, a condition in which the immune system damages the body’s healthy cells and tissues
Treatment for inflammatory conditions typically involves medications to manage the inflammation. For conditions arising from autoimmune disorders, your doctor may prescribe immunosuppressive drugs. Because Buerger’s disease
Bursitis develops from overuse or repetitive motions. Resting the finger and avoiding the activities that cause pain can encourage healing.
Finger pain can occur with a variety of conditions that can affect or damage the nervous system, including:
- diabetic neuropathy, which is nerve damage due to high blood sugar levels associated with diabetes
- multiple sclerosis, a condition that affects the brain and spinal cord
- transverse myelitis, a neurological condition that causes inflammation of the spinal cord
Certain medications — such as pain relievers, anti-inflammatory drugs, or immunosuppressants — can help treat neurological conditions that cause finger pain. People with diabetic neuropathy may also need to take insulin and
Finger pain can be associated with other conditions, including:
- circulatory issues like Raynaud’s disease, which involves spasms of small blood vessels in the fingers and toes and blood circulation disruption
- frostbite or freezing temperatures
- conditions that compress or damage nerves, like carpal tunnel syndrome or ulnar nerve entrapment
- ganglion cyst, which is a benign growth or swelling on top of a joint or tendon
- finger neuroma, a benign growth of nerve tissue that can press on nerves and cause pain
Complications associated with finger pain vary depending on the underlying condition and can be severe. It is important to talk with your doctor if you experience persistent finger pain or other unusual symptoms. Following your doctor’s treatment plan will minimize the risk of complications such as:
- chronic disability
- finger amputation
- changes in the finger’s form
- difficulty performing daily tasks
- infection spreading to other tissues
You may experience other symptoms with finger pain. For example, infections in the finger can spread to the blood and cause fevers, swelling, and chills.
Other symptoms that can occur with finger pain may include:
- arm or wrist pain
- bruised areas
- other skin discoloration
- grip weakness
- drainage or pus
- fingernail problems, such as bruising under the nail or detachment of the nail
- flu-like symptoms
- lacerations, sores, lesions, or abrasions
- bumps along the finger
- reduced range of joint movement
- swollen areas
In some cases, finger pain may occur with symptoms that could indicate a condition that requires immediate evaluation in an emergency setting. Get immediate medical care by calling 911 or going to an emergency room if you have finger pain along with any of these other symptoms:
- fever higher than 101ºF (38°C)
- difficulty moving the finger, wrist, or arm
- partial or total amputation of the finger
- red or discolored, warm, and tender skin
- discolored or red streak up the arm
- severe pain
- uncontrolled bleeding
- visible changes in form
Here are a few other commonly asked questions about finger pain. Dr. Angela Bell reviewed the answers.
Can finger pain be an early sign of arthritis?
Yes, finger pain may occur in the early stages of arthritis. You may also experience joint swelling, warmth, and stiffness.
Why do my finger joints hurt all of a sudden?
Injuries and infections can cause sudden pain in your finger joints. Some chronic conditions, like lupus or rheumatoid arthritis, can also make your finger joints hurt. Talk with your doctor if you experience sudden finger pain.
Many conditions can cause finger pain. These may include injuries, infections, and degenerative, inflammatory, or neurological conditions. While some causes may be mild and treatable with at-home remedies, others may require professional medical treatment.
The underlying causes of finger pain can lead to complications if left untreated. These complications can range from difficulty performing daily tasks to changes in the finger’s form or amputation.
Talk with your doctor if you experience persistent or severe finger pain. They can help you determine the cause and the proper treatment plan.