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Knuckle Pain Causes

Knuckle joint is prone to many injuries and disorders, as it is one of the most utilized joint in the body. Read more on knuckle pain causes.
Ashwini Kulkarni Sule Apr 10, 2019
Knuckle joint or metacarpophalangeal joint is the one where the fingers meet the fist. This is a complex joint which consists of many bones, tendons and ligaments. Injury to any of these components results in knuckle pain. This joint is also prone to fractures and dislocations. Knuckle pain and swelling can originate due to several causes.

Knuckle Pain Causes

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Knuckle pain and arthritis have a close relation. The onset of rheumatoid arthritis is often marked by knuckle pain. Arthritis often causes knuckle pain and stiffness in fingers.
Rheumatoid arthritis results when the immune system starts attacking the knuckle joint, due to which the cartilage and bones get eroded. The symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis is dull joint pain with burning sensation and stiffness of the joint.


Osteoarthritis is a form of arthritis in which there is a chronic break down of cartilage. This is often the cause of knuckle pain and stiffening. Due to the degeneration of cartilage, the bones of the fingers rub against each other, leading to chipping or thickening of bones. In either case, the person experiences excruciating pain in knuckles.


Gout is the form of arthritis which is caused due to excess of uric acid in the blood. Gout often causes pain, swelling and stiffness in the joints of the body. Normally, it is the joint of the big toe that gets affected worse, however, gout may also occur in the knuckle joint, resulting in pain and swelling.

Psoriasis Arthritis

Psoriasis is basically a skin disease however, 10% of psoriasis patients also develop arthritis of joints called psoriasis arthritis. It involves inflammation of the skin and joints. Although, knee joint and elbow joint are more prone to psoriasis arthritis, psoriasis arthritis of knuckle joint is also not unheard of.

Brachial Plexus Injury

Brachial plexus injury is the most common form of injuries to hand, shoulder or arm. It involves a damage to the brachial nerve that carries signals from the spine to the arm. The injury is in the form of stretching, pinching or tearing, in worst cases.


Lower levels of thyroid hormone or hypothyroidism can also contribute to knuckle pain and stiff fingers. Fatigue, dry skin are other symptoms that will usually accompany knuckle pain, if you have hypothyroidism.

Cracking Knuckles

People who have a habit of cracking their knuckles may suffer from knuckle pain sooner or later. Persistent cracking causes gradual damage to the knuckle cartilage.


Pain killers

Pain killers are the form of drugs that relieve you of pain and discomfort associated with it. Pain killers are often prescribed when the pain is mild. The medications are effective in reducing pain and inflammation. Cortisone injections can be given in cases of severe knuckle pain.

Non-Surgical Treatments

Non surgical methods of relieving knuckle pain includes soaking knuckles in hot water with salt in it. This reduces the swelling and relieves pain to some extent. If the cause of knuckle pain is a pinched nerve, a massage may prove to be effective. Magnetic therapy has evolved as a form of alternative medicine which has benefited many people.

Surgical Treatment

Surgical treatment is recommended when everything else fails. The surgery can be performed in two ways. In the first type, the affected part of the joint can be removed and the rest of the components can be fused together while in the other type, entire knuckle joint is removed and replaced with artificial joint.
Besides these, there are several other causes, from very common ailments such as common cold to more serious ones like diabetes. Knuckle pain can be particularly painful and can affect the efficiency of person to perform normal functions. Therefore, it is necessary to diagnose the cause of knuckle pain and treat it.
Disclaimer: This is intended for information purpose only. Do not use the information presented herein as a substitute for medical practitioner's advice.