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Finger pain

Finger pain is pain in one or more fingers.

Alternative Names

Pain - finger

Considerations

Nearly everyone has injured a finger at some time. After an injury, the finger can stay a bit crooked or stiff. However, your hand can still work well. Fingers do not need to open or close completely to work.

Numbness or tingling in the fingers may be a sign of a problem with nerves or blood flow.

Common Causes

Home Care

Avoid activities that cause or worsen pain.

After injury, rest the finger joints so that they can heal. Use mild stretching exercises to keep them limber and moving. Stretch the joints gently, not forcefully, twice a day. Stretch just to the point of discomfort, but not enough to cause pain.

Use common sense and do activities that are less stressful to the joints. For example, you can grip a big handle with less strain than a small handle.

Avoid strong pain medicines that tend to mask the pain. You may do too much activity and make the injury worse.

Anti-inflammatory medication can help. Take any prescribed medication for inflammation only as directed.

Call your health care provider if

Call your health care provider if:

  • The finger pain is caused by injury
  • The problem continues after 2 weeks of home treatment
  • There is numbing or tingling in the fingers
  • There is severe pain at rest
  • It is impossible to straighten the fingers

What to expect at your health care provider's office

The health care provider will perform a physical examination , which will include looking at your hand and finger movement.

You will be asked questions about your medical history and symptoms, including:

  • Location
    • What part of the finger is affected?
    • Is it on both hands?
    • Is it in every finger?
    • Which finger is affected?
    • Is it only in one joint? Which joint?
  • Time pattern
    • When did the finger pain start?
    • How long has it lasted?
    • Do you have pain all the time or does it come and go?
  • Quality
    • Is the pain burning?
    • Is the pain crushing?
    • Is the pain sharp?
  • Medical history
    • Have you been injured recently?
    • What other symptoms do you have?

An x-ray of the hand may be recommended.

Treatment depends on the cause of the problem.

References

Lyn E, Mailhot T. Hand. In: Marx J, Hockberger RS, Walls RM, et al, eds. Rosen’s Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 7th ed. St Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2009:chap 47.

Swigart CR. Hand and wrist pain. In: Firestein GS, Budd RC, Harris ED Jr., et al, eds. Kelley's Textbook of Rheumatology. 8th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2008:chap 44.

Updated: 8/15/2011

Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington, School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.


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