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Finger pain

Definition

Finger pain is defined as pain in one or more fingers.

Alternative Names

Pain - finger

Considerations

Nearly everyone has injured a finger at sometime during their life. After an injury, the finger can remain a bit crooked or stiff. However, your hand can still work quite well with minor deformities. Fingers do not need to open or close completely to be functional.

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 aggravate pain.

After injury, rest the finger joints so that they can heal, but use mild stretching exercises to keep them limber and maintain motion. 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 in thinking of ways to perform activities that are less stressful to the joints. For example, a big handle can be gripped with less strain than a small handle.

Avoid strong pain medicines that tend to mask the pain and may lead to excessive activity or exercise.

Anti-inflammatory medication can help. Any prescribed medication for inflammation should be taken only as directed.

Call your health care provider if

Call your doctor if:

  • The finger pain is caused by injury
  • The problem persists 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 doctor will perform a physical examination, which will include looking at 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 every finger?
    • Which finger?
    • Is it only a particular joint? Which joint?
  • Time pattern
    • When did the finger pain first start?
    • How long has it lasted?
    • Is the pain continuous 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 underlying cause.

References

Lyn E, Antosia RE. Hand. In: Marx J, ed. Rosen’s Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 6th ed. St Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2006:chap 47.

Swigart CR. Hand and wrist pain. In: Harris ED, Budd RC, Genovese MC, Firestein GS, Sargent JS, Sledge CB, eds. Kelley's Textbook of Rheumatology. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2005:chap 44.


Review Date: 8/9/2009
Reviewed By: 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.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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