Finger Joint Pain: Symptoms, Signs, Causes & Treatment

why does my finger joint hurt

There’s no doubt that our fingers, probably without us even being aware of it, are used every day, and all the time.

Just think about it for a minute – how on earth would we cope without our fingers?

From the moment we wake up in the morning to the going down of the sun, we are constantly using our fingers.

They feed us, groom us, and bathe us.

Would we have a job if we didn’t have fingers?

This makes our fingers at high risk of injury and pain [1].

And if you are someone who is experiencing finger pain and soreness, there has probably been a change in your blood vessel structure, tendons, bones, joints, muscles, and connective tissues [2].

The bottom line is this – you could be starting or have already got arthritis

If you are someone who is experiencing stiffness in your finger joints as well as pain and swelling, it is likely that you have a form of arthritis in your fingers [3].

In the USA, arthritis is called the ‘inflammation of joints.’

But still, there are over 100 specific types of arthritis.

In the USA, it is the most common chronic illness.

What Caused My Finger Pain?

  • Well, finger pain can occur because of disease in the fingers. One example is Raynaud’s Disease. Joint pain means joint inflammation that can occur in the joints of the finger bones. You will probably notice swelling, redness, and warmth around the joints. Both rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis affect the joints of the fingers [4].
  • Then you get trauma or injury that could have occurred to your fingers. These could be dislocations, bruises, or fractures of the bone – all these are common. Injury to your fingers can include anything like jamming your fingers in a door – or any direct trauma to the hands and fingers. After an injury, the immune system will respond by sending fluid and blood to the area. It wants to protect the injured fingers. As the injury starts to heal, the pain and swelling become reduced.
  • You also get tumors of the finger structures. But this is a very rare cause of pain in the fingers.
  • You might be surprised to hear, too, that certain diseases like diabetes can cause damage to the nerves. This will result in pain and numbness, and even tingling in the arms and legs. This condition is called peripheral neuropathy [5].
  • Another cause of finger joint pain is an infection of the skin or other tissues of the fingers. Although it’s not a very common cause of finger pain.
  • There is also a syndrome called Carpal tunnel syndrome. It starts off by causing numbness and tingling in the hands. As it progresses, it can cause burning and cramping in the fingers. Carpal tunnel syndrome is usually treated by splints, medicines, exercises, and physiotherapy.

What are the signs and symptoms of finger joint-related pain?

You will notice pain in your hands, wrists, and even your toes:

In fact, pain in the finger joints can become very difficult to handle, particularly as the condition get worse.

Aching, stiff fingers can play havoc with your everyday activities. In certain cases, the symptoms might become so severe that medical attention might be sought.

Some over-the-counter medications can help.

Are there any home remedies I can start for treating finger joint pain?

You can treat finger joint pain at home with some home remedies.

These include:

Other treatment and management of finger joint pain

lady with finger pain

For acute injuries, rest, ice, and immobilization might help in the beginning after injury.

This will allow the fingers to heal. Physical therapy or occupational therapy might be needed depending on the injury.

Septic infections of the finger joints will probably be treated with antibiotics. This will eliminate harmful bacteria causing pain and inflammation.

If you have arthritis

Different types of arthritis, including rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis, can be managed with a variety of treatment options:

  • Over-the-counter pain medications
  • Topical pain-relieving creams
  • Applying warm paraffin wax also reduces stiffness and pain
  • Prescription medications will help to reduce pain and inflammation.
  • Cortisone injections will reduce inflammation
  • Physical or occupational therapy
  • Hand bracing or splinting for joint protection

Sometimes autoimmune forms of rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis are lifelong treatments, to prevent the joint disease from becoming worse

Signs you might have rheumatoid arthritis in your finger joints

  • Your joints feel warm to the
  • You feel pain and stiffness when you wake up
  • You have hand and finger pain
  • There is swelling and stiffness

Signs you might have osteoarthritis in your finger joints

  • You feel a bump on your knuckle at the end of your finger (Heberden’s node)
  • You feel a bump on your knuckle at the middle of your finger (Bouchard’s node)
  • You feel pain, stiffness, swelling, and tenderness of the hands and fingers

Signs that you might have Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA) in your finger joints

  • You have joint pain and stiffness
  • You have a reduced range of motion
  • The area is red

If you have gout

Therapy will be required to lower the uric acid levels in gout patients [6].

Check out the most common medications to treat gout and lower uric acid levels.

Often if gout treatment doesn’t work, then medical treatments and surgery might be required.

This will remove damaged tissue in the affected joints. This procedure is called debridement.

Surgery for gout will be performed when the disease has progressed, there is significant pain, the nerves are compressed or trapped, or there are recurring infections.

For people with lupus

Lupus is not like rheumatoid arthritis.

With lupus, the pain and inflammation in the joints often are a result of looseness of the ligaments and tendons.

Rheumatoid arthritis is about bone damage.

Because of this, lupus symptoms can be easier to correct with splinting or bracing of the fingers.

Lupus can be managed with anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive medications.

Signs that you might have Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) in your finger joints

  • You have swollen and painful joints
  • Your entire hand is swollen
  • You experience fatigue
  • You have headaches
  • Fever, with aching

3 simple exercises that will relieve finger joint pain and swelling PLUS a slide show of top finger exercises


  • Hold your fingers out straight
  • Slowly make a fist
  • Hold your thumb on the outside of your hand
  • Open your hand back up and straighten your fingers
  • Repeat this exercise 10 times


  • Hold your hand vertical with your fingers straight
  • Bend the index finger toward the palm
  • Straighten your index finger again
  • Bend the middle finger toward the palm
  • Straighten your middle finger again
  • Repeat this exercise with all fingers


  • Use a soft foam ball
  • Squeeze the ball
  • Relax your hand
  • Repeat a few times


As you can see above, there are quite a few causes that might explain why you are a sufferer of finger pain in your joints.

Whatever the causes are, experiencing pain and stiffness in the finger joints can affect the quality of your life – a lot.

After all, the fingers and hands are used continuously around the clock.

They never stop moving and have to put up with being plunged into hot and cold water, trying to win competitions in sports, and so much more.

It is imperative that we keep our hands and finger joints well maintained and well nourished.

Sufficient rest and the correct treatment procedures will help to relieve the hands and fingers from pain and swelling.

Pain and swelling can arise from the results of an injury or from the ravages of the different types of arthritis that are so prominent today.

As long as the actual cause is treated, this can lead to an improvement.

When over-the-counter treatments are not proving effective, it is time to seek medical attention as soon as you can.

Finger joint inflammation that causes sudden swelling and pain can arise from several conditions – find out what has caused your finger joint pain and swelling.

Because you don’t want others pointing their fingers at you because you are failing to take care of these vital members of your body!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What must I expect if my finger joint is swollen or inflamed? 

It is highly likely that you have some form of arthritis - Unless you have just recently suffered an injury. You might be experiencing severe pain. It is best to see your doctor to help identify which type of arthritis you have. There will be the right treatments for your type of arthritis.

Can I actually prevent finger joint pain in the future?

It is advisable that when you are aware of finger joint pain, you start with the right treatment straight away. Preventive care is always better.

Try and follow these tips to avoid finger joint pain in the future:

  • Wear protective clothing and the right gear to protect your hands and fingers when you are playing sport or involved in any heavy physical type of work
  • Take regular breaks when you are performing tasks that require you to use repetitive hand motions
  • You need to see that your blood sugar levels are kept in check
  • Always ensure that you get plenty of exercise so that your weight is maintained
  • Incorporate healthy foods in your diet – maybe starting an anti-inflammatory diet will make a world of difference

When should I see a doctor about finger or hand pain?

Don’t hesitate to call your doctor if you are experiencing severe pain, numbness, or tingling in your fingers or the entire hand. If you find it difficult to move your fingers, straighten the fingers out, or the fingers are looking discolored, bruised, and swollen – see your doctor.

If I’m under 40, should I still be worried about arthritis?

Even though arthritis does commonly start in people from around 40 to 60, it can start even earlier [7]. Children can get arthritis too. Fortunately, there are drugs available on the market today that will help to slow down your immune system if it is over-active. This will help to reduce the pain and swelling in the joints.