Finger Pain Symptoms

Published: February 5, 2012

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Overview

Ouch! Don't underestimate finger pain. When you hurt your finger, it can hurt. You might experience pain for a variety of reasons. You could have injured your finger by jamming it against a wall or by slamming it in a car door. Your bone might be fractured, sprained, or broken. You might have bruised or injured your fingernail, and your finger nail might even need to be removed. You might have a chronic condition like arthritis or carpal tunnel syndrome, or you might have a serious infection or bone tumor. Sometimes, injuries can spark the onset of chronic conditions. A closer look will provide concrete explanations for the causes, diagnosis, and treatment of finger pain.

Causes & Symptoms

  • Carpal tunnel is a condition where tendons and ligaments become swollen. The resulting pinched nerves produce symptoms of burning, tingling, and numbness. You might not be able to move your fingers, and you may only experience symptoms in your thumb, index, and middle fingers.
  • Your fingers consist of three bones that join at a knuckle. Any of these bones can break easily. When a finger is broken, you'll experience swelling, extreme pain, and even bruising. You'll have a great deal of trouble moving your finger, if you can even move it at all. Some people don't even notice when their finger breaks. After several hours or days, you might notice that your finger looks crooked.
  • Arthritis is a chronic condition that can occur in any joint of the body. Your joint will become inflamed and cause you pain. You might develop arthritis with age, or you might have a genetic condition that causes rheumatoid arthritis. Arthritis in your fingers will cause your fingers to feel stiff and swollen.
  • You might have injured your nail by accident. You may have dislodged the nail, or you may experience swelling. If you have dislodged your nail, you might need to have it professionally removed. Otherwise, the nail will turn purple or black and fall out on its own after a few days or weeks. It might be less painful to have the nail removed by a medical professional.
  • You could have a fungal, bacterial, or viral infection in your nail, tendons, blood, or bones. With a nail infection, you're likely to experience some discoloration and pus. Other infections cause itchiness, burning, and swelling. An infection in your joints will make you feel stiff and immobilize your finger.
  • Bone tumors cause symptoms of pain and swelling that tend to be worse at night. With a bone tumor, you are more likely to experience broken fingers.
  • A spinal cord injury is likely if you experience burning, tingling, numbness, or weakness.

Diagnosis & Treatment

Finger injuries do not always require prompt medical attention. If you slam your finger in a door or if you jam your finger in an accident, you might just have a sprain or momentary discomfort. Use an over-the-counter pain reliever, and ice your finger to relieve symptoms. Symptoms should subside within a few hours or days. If you feel better within 24 hours, you will not need to go to the doctor.

  • You should visit a doctor if your pain is extreme. Extreme pain, stiffness, and uncontrollable swelling indicate a broken finger. A doctor can diagnose a fracture using an X-ray. If you have a broken finger, you might need to wear a brace or splint. Go to the doctor as soon as you suspect a broken finger. Without medical attention, your finger could heal improperly, and you could have problems for the rest of your life.
  • Visit a doctor if you suspect an infection, especially if stiffness, swelling, and pain spread throughout your hand, arm, and fingers. You may need an antiviral, antifungal, or antibiotic.
  • Chronic pain might require physical therapy or medications. For example, rheumatoid arthritis patients are typically prescribed a medication.
  • Cancer patients might need radiation or chemotherapy.
  • Patients with a fingernail injury might need to have their fingernail removed.
  • Many serious and persistent conditions will need a combination of surgery and physical therapy for successful recovery.

Only a doctor can accurately diagnose and prescribe treatment for your finger pain. See a doctor if you have any questions or doubts at all. Don't ignore your finger pain!

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