Finger Lump

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What is a finger lump?

A finger lump is a protuberance or localized area of swelling that can occur anywhere on your finger. Other terms used to describe the various types of finger lumps include bump, nodule, contusion, tumor and cyst. Finger lumps can be caused by any number of conditions, including infections, inflammation, tumors or trauma. Depending on the cause, you might have single or multiple finger lumps that are soft or firm, painful or painless. They may grow rapidly or may not change in size.

If your finger lump forms due to local inflammation of the finger joint, it may appear as a knot or lump at the area of the joint. Finger lumps commonly occur at the joint area and are indicative of osteoarthritis and other arthritis-related conditions. Traumatic causes of finger lumps range from bug bites to severe injuries.

Both benign and malignant tumors of the skin, soft tissues, or bone can appear as a finger lump. In these cases, either a biopsy or surgical removal of the finger lump can determine whether cancer is present. Cysts, which are fluid-filled, sac-like structures, can form on the finger and may appear like a lump. Some cysts may be present at birth, while others develop as a result of inflammation, tumors, or wear-and-tear on your body over time. Conditions that produce inflammation throughout the body, such as rheumatoid arthritis, a chronic autoimmune disease characterized by joint inflammation, may be associated with finger lumps.

Finger lumps caused by infection, inflammation or trauma are usually temporary and subside as the underlying condition resolves. Finger lumps that persist or continue to grow over time may signal more serious conditions, such as tumors.

If you have any finger lump that is persistent or causes you concern, seek prompt medical care.

What other symptoms might occur with a finger lump?

A finger lump may be accompanied by other symptoms, depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition. Certain conditions that cause finger lumps may also involve other body systems.

Related localized symptoms that may occur along with a finger lump

A finger lump may be accompanied by other localized symptoms including:

  • Pus or discharge
  • Redness, warmth or swelling
  • Stiffness
  • Tenderness or pain

Other symptoms that may occur along with a finger lump

A finger lump may accompany symptoms related to other body systems including:

  • Fever and chills
  • Joint stiffness and pain

Symptoms that might indicate a serious condition

In some cases, a finger lump can be serious and may lead to complications if left untreated. Seek prompt medical care if you are being treated for finger lump but mild symptoms recur or if you experience persistent numbness, swelling, or trouble moving your fingers. Seek immediate medical care if you, or someone you are with, have a finger lump along with other serious symptoms including:

  • Bone protruding through the skin or inability to feel the finger
  • Deformity or dislocation of the joint
  • Extensive swelling
  • Numbness or tingling

What causes a finger lump?

Finger lumps have many possible causes, including trauma, infections, inflammatory diseases, benign cysts and tumors, and cancers.

Traumatic causes of finger lumps

Minor and severe injuries, as well as internal trauma, can result in a localized swelling or finger lump including:

  • Broken bones

  • Finger joint injury

  • Hematoma (collection of blood in body tissues)

  • Sting or bite injuries

Other causes of finger lumps

An infection may produce one or more finger lumps in the form of a localized abscess or as an enlargement of lymph nodes near the affected body region. Infectious causes of finger lumps include:

  • Abscesses

  • Boils

  • Cellulitis (infection of the skin and underlying tissues)

  • Herpes virus infections

  • Papilloma virus infections (warts)

Inflammatory causes of finger lumps

Some conditions that lead to inflammation in the body may produce finger lumps including:

  • Gout (type of arthritis caused by a buildup of uric acid in the joints)

  • Osteoarthritis (type of arthritis characterized by degeneration of the cartilage and bone in the joints)

  • Rheumatic fever (disease characterized by inflammation of the joints and of the connective tissue, especially in the blood vessels and heart)

  • Rheumatoid arthritis (chronic autoimmune disease characterized by joint inflammation)

Tumors that can cause finger lumps

Both benign and malignant tumors can cause finger lumps including:

  • Fibroma (benign tumor composed of fibrous or connective tissue)

  • Lipoma (benign fatty growth)

  • Melanoma (cancer arising in the melanocytes, or pigment-producing cells, in the skin or other parts of the body)

  • Nevi (moles of the skin)

  • Non-melanoma skin cancers

Serious or life-threatening causes of finger lumps

In some cases, a finger lump may be a symptom of a serious or life-threatening condition that should be evaluated immediately by a health care provider. These include:

  • Cancer of the bones or soft tissues

  • Melanoma skin cancer

Questions for diagnosing the cause of a finger lump

To diagnose your condition, your doctor or licensed health care practitioner will ask you several questions related to your finger lump including:

  • How long have you had the finger lump?

  • Are you experiencing any other symptoms along with the finger lump?

  • Is the finger lump getting bigger?

  • Is the finger lump painful?

What are the potential complications of a finger lump?

Finger lumps caused by cancer may have life-threatening consequences, depending on the type and stage (extent) of the cancer. Left untreated, finger lumps caused by abscesses or serious infections may lead to widespread infection in the body. Following your treatment plan for serious causes of finger lumps can help reduce your risk of complications including:

  • Inability to perform daily tasks

  • Joint deformity and destruction

  • Nerve injury

  • Spread of cancer

  • Spread of infection

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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2020 Nov 20
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.
  1. Finger injuries and disorders. Medline Plus, a service of the National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/fingerinjuriesanddisorders.html
  2. Osteoarthritis. PubMed Health, a service of the NLM from the NIH. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001460/