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Finger Pain and Stiffness

Finger Pain and Stiffness

When there is pain and stiffness in the fingers, their mobility and ability to grip can badly get affected. Read this article to identify the causes behind the problem and the methods of treatment that can help to get rid of it.
Bidisha Mukherjee
Last Updated: Apr 22, 2018
The fingers consist of bones, ligaments and tendons. The bones and ligaments provide stability to the fingers while the tendons facilitate their movements. If due to some reasons, any of these structural components become weak or get dislocated, then it leads to pain. The intensity of these symptoms often varies from mild to severe, and it depends on the extent of damage caused to the underlying structure of the finger.
Causes
The factors responsible for finger pain can be divided into two different categories. One is temporary which does not cause any permanent damage to the fingers, like a traumatic injury. Fingers are susceptible to various forms of injuries. If your hand got banged against a hard surface in an accident, then fracture can occur in the finger bones or the cartilage may get twisted abnormally. This results in swelling, pain and stiffness in the fingers. This will heal up within a short span of time.
There are other factors that can cause damage to the fingers permanently. They are mostly associated with some underlying health problems, like osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis which cause gradual degeneration of the finger joint structure. Osteoarthritis is a form of arthritis where the soft cartilage tissue in between the finger bones deteriorate. The cartilage mainly prevents the bones at the joint from rubbing against each other. When it is damaged, the finger bones are subjected to a lot of friction constantly. As a result, the bone ends become thick or get chipped off which make the finger joint painful and stiff. In certain cases, this kind of damage may lead to formation of bone spurs.
In rheumatoid arthritis, the immune system starts attacking various joints of the body including the 14 finger joints. Due to the attack, the bones and the cartilage of the fingers wear out. This can be identified with symptoms, like burning sensation and numbness in fingers, along with pain and stiffness. When rheumatoid arthritis turns severe, it can cause deformity in fingers. Pain and stiffening of the fingers are also symptoms of gout and psoriasis.
Treatment
When the painful symptoms are mild, soaking the affected hand into warm saltwater for 10 to 15 minutes can provide a lot of relief. It has to be repeated 2-3 times in a day for one week or so. Moreover, the hand should be rested properly so that the damage can heal up fast. For an unbearable pain in the stiff finger joints, doctors should be consulted. They first conduct a thorough physical examination of the hand and is followed by an X-ray. If a sprain or fracture has occurred in the fingers, then patients are advised to use splints to provide adequate support to the injured joints. They will prescribe painkiller to reduce pain and inflammation. In many chronic cases, the pain may refuse to die down with oral medicines and cortisone injections are administered for pain relief. Sometimes, doctors suggest massage therapy by a chiropractor to get rid of the pain. If all these nonsurgical methods fail to show the desired effect, then doctors may have to opt for surgery to repair any major damage.
Finally, I would like to share with you some tips to improve the flexibility of the fingers and restore their normal functioning once the pain goes down, after treatment. Keep your hands on a table and straighten your fingers as much as you can. Make a firm fist by folding the fingers tightly, and then stretch them once again. If you have undergone surgery in the fingers, then use fingers of the other hand to move each of the fingers of the affected hand slowly. It should be repeated once or twice daily. As the mobility improves, you can increase the repetitions and the stiffness will be relieved completely after some time.