What Is a Finger Lump?

Medically Reviewed By Daniel Wiznia, MD
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A finger lump is an area of swelling that occurs somewhere on your finger. This article defines what a finger lump is. It also discusses the possible causes and treatments.

What is a finger lump?

Fingers with berries on the ends
Lucas Ottone/Stocksy United

A finger lump is a localized area of swelling that can occur anywhere on your finger. Other terms used to describe finger lumps include “bump,” “nodule,” “contusion,” “tumor,” and “cyst.”

Any number of conditions, including infections, inflammation, tumors, or trauma, can cause finger lumps. Depending on the cause, you might have single or multiple finger lumps that are soft or firm, painful or painless. Finger lumps 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 in the area of the joint. Finger lumps commonly occur in the joint area and are indicative of 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 finger lumps. In these cases, either a biopsy or surgical removal of the lump can determine whether cancer is present.

Cysts are fluid-filled, sac-like structures that can form on the finger and may appear like a lump. Some cysts may be present at birth. However, others develop as a result of inflammation, tumors, or wear and tear on your body over time.

Conditions that produce inflammation throughout the body are sometimes associated with finger lumps. Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic autoimmune disease. The joint inflammation that characterizes this condition can result in finger lumps.

Finger lumps that occur due to infection, inflammation, or trauma usually 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, contact your doctor.

What causes a finger lump?

Finger lumps have many possible causes, including:

  • trauma
  • infections
  • inflammatory diseases
  • benign cysts and tumors
  • cancers

Ganglion cyst

Ganglion cysts are soft masses that often feel gel-like and can change in size. These cysts are a sign of inflammation and are typically harmless. They usually occur due to arthritis in the joint or tendonitis in the tendon sheath.

Ganglion cysts form when fluid leaks from either a joint or tendon, causing swelling beneath your skin. These ganglions can continue to fill with fluid over time. It is more common for ganglion cysts to form either at the back or the front of the wrist. However, they can also form on your finger or at its base.

Sometimes there is noticeable swelling with a ganglion cyst, but often there are no symptoms. It is possible for the cyst to limit your movement within your joint or cause some kind of pain. Most symptoms dissipate over time.

Around half of ganglion cysts go away on their own without any treatment. However, if they cause pain, impact your functionality, or last for more than 6 months, your doctor may recommend treatment. The typical treatments for ganglion cysts are medication or surgery.

Other types of cysts that can occur on the fingers are mucous cysts and epidermal inclusion cysts.

Warts

Many people will experience warts at some point in their life. Warts are small lumps on the skin that occur due to a virus that can spread by contact.

You can typically tell if you have a wart if the finger lump:

  • feels firm and rough
  • is skin-colored, but may appear darker on dark skin

Warts can appear on your palm, knuckles, fingers, and knees. Warts are usually harmless, but some people do find them itchy, painful, and embarrassing.

If you have a wart that bothers you, keeps coming back, or causes you pain, there are treatments available.

You can find over-the-counter sprays and creams to treat warts. These types of treatments can take up to 3 months to work, and they do not always work on everyone. A pharmacist can help you find a treatment that is right for you.

You should contact your doctor if you have a wart that:

  • you feel concerned about
  • keeps coming back
  • is large or painful
  • bleeds or changes in appearance
  • is on your face or genitals

Osteoarthritis

Also called degenerative joint disease, osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common type of arthritis.

OA most often occurs in the hands, knees, and hips. It occurs when the cartilage in your joints breaks down and the underlying bone changes.

The most common areas of the hand where OA occurs are:

  • the base of the thumb where it meets the wrist
  • the joint closest to the fingertip
  • the middle joint of the finger

OA can cause bony nodules on the joints of the fingers. At the base of the thumb, it can cause swelling, a bump, and deep aching pain in the affected area.

OA also typically results in:

  • pain
  • stiffness
  • swelling
  • deformity

Treatment of OA tends to focus on managing the pain and restoring the function of your fingers. Talk with your doctor about treatment options.

Visit our hub to learn more about arthritis.

Other causes of a finger lump

There are many other various causes of a finger lump, including:

  • broken bone
  • injury to the joint
  • hematoma
  • sting or bite
  • abscess or boils
  • herpetic whitlow
  • benign or malignant tumors, such as subungual melanoma
  • certain types of infection

Treatment for a finger lump will depend on the cause. If you have a lump that is concerning to you, contact your doctor.

What are the potential complications of a finger lump?

Left untreated, finger lumps that occur due to 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 infection

Finger lumps due to cancer may have life threatening consequences, depending on the type and stage of cancer.

Learn more about infections by visiting our hub.

Summary

A finger lump is swelling of some kind that occurs on your finger.

There are many possible causes of a finger lump, and most of them are treatable.

If a lump concerns you, causes pain, changes in appearance, or persists, contact your doctor.

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Medical Reviewer: Daniel Wiznia, MD
Last Review Date: 2022 May 4
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