Read below about finger pain, including causes, treatment options and remedies. Or get a personalized analysis of your finger pain from our A.I. health assistant. At Buoy, we build tools that help you know what’s wrong right now and how to get the right care.

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Finger Pain Symptoms

Open a jar, close a door, wrap a present – these are just a few things we need our fingers to do. So, what do you do when finger pain suddenly makes even the smallest of tasks painful and difficult? If you can't think of the reason you're experiencing finger pain, frustration and concern can start to overtake your emotions.

If a finger is suddenly aching, here are a few other finger pain symptoms you may be experiencing.

  • Pain when moving or putting pressure on the affected finger
  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Warmth
  • Weakness
  • Numbness or tingling

Fingers are able to perform incredible and intricate work. The movement of our fingers is the result of a perfectly coordinated dance between our tendons, muscles, and bones.

Fingers have three bones each. These bones are covered in muscle, which are connected by tendons. When we want to move a finger, the brain sends an electric impulse to the specific muscle that either relaxes it or contracts it. Upon this change, tendons are activated. The ending result is a moved finger.

When a sudden bout of finger pain does strike, it can be impossible to ignore. But the pain is rarely a sign of anything serious and can be remedied.

Finger Pain Causes Overview

When you're plagued with finger pain symptoms, the cause can sometimes be a mystery.

Trauma:

  • Bruises and strains : Slamming your finger in the car door or having it bent backwards playing basketball are just two examples of finger injury.
  • Fracture: Though incredibly strong, the bones in our fingers are easier to break and fracture than others. Stress fractures aren't always easy to spot in fingers either. Swelling, difficulty moving the affected hand and finger, and trouble holding onto objects are signs of potential fractures.

Infections:

  • Bacterial: Paronychia is the most common bacterial infection found on the hand. It's typically localized to the skin around the fingernail, however. A cut anywhere on the finger can become infected, leading to severe finger pain if left untreated.
  • Viral: One type of viral infection that affects fingers is herpetic whitlow. It's the most common viral infection of the hand and causes pain in the fingertip area.

Medical:

  • Joint issues: Arthritis can lead to finger pain. While some of the first joints to be affected are usually the knees, hips, or spine, those diagnosed also express weakness in their hands along with finger pain.
  • Nerve damage: Carpal tunnel syndrome is a prime example of how nerve damage can cause tingling and discomfort in the fingers.
  • Blood vessel trauma: Thoracic outlet syndrome occurs when compression causes a lack of blood flow to the extremities. Finger tingling and numbness are a symptom.

Not all of these causes can be self-diagnosed.

If you need help from a medical professional to determine the cause of your finger pain symptoms, the following may be performed.

  • Medical questionnaire to document specific symptoms and timeline
  • Physical examination to notate swelling, redness, and limited movement
  • Lab tests if an infection is suspected
  • Imaging tests if a broken bone or similar trauma is suspected

A.I. Health Assistant Causes for Finger Pain

Updated on Aug. 29, 2018

The list below shows results from the use of our A.I. Health Assistant by Buoy users who experienced finger pain. This list does not constitute medical advice.

  1. 1.Jammed Finger

    Jammed fingers are common in sports but may occur during daily activity.

    2-3 weeks

    Rarity:
    Uncommon
    Top Symptoms:
    recent finger injury, finger pain from an injury, swollen finger, finger joint stiffness, finger bruise
    Symptoms that always occur with jammed finger:
    recent finger injury, finger pain from an injury
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  2. 2.Raynaud Phenomenon

    Primary Raynaud phenomenon is a disorder of the blood vessels, usually in the fingers and toes, which causes the blood vessels to narrow when feeling cold or stressed. When this happens, blood can't get to the surface of the skin and the affected areas turn white and blue.

    This condition is considered irreversible, but it should not prevent you from living a healthy life.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    distal numbness, cold toe, cold fingers, spontaneous toe pain, spontaneous finger pain
    Urgency:
    Self-treatment
  3. 3.Non - Serious Finger Injury

    Finger injuries are very common & rarely need medical treatment.

    The pain & swelling will begin to resolve within a few days.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    recent finger injury, finger pain from an injury, swollen finger, severe finger pain
    Symptoms that always occur with non-serious finger injury:
    recent finger injury
    Symptoms that never occur with non-serious finger injury:
    bent or crooked finger
    Urgency:
    Self-treatment
  4. 4.Rheumatoid Arthritis

    Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a form of arthritis that causes pain, swelling, stiffness and loss of function in your joints. It can affect any joint but is common in the wrist and fingers. RA is an autoimmune disorder, meaning that it is caused by the immune system incorrectly attacking the joints when it shouldn't.

    RA is a chronic disease which requires lifelong control.

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, depressed mood, joint pain, muscle aches, daytime sleepiness
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  5. 5.Psoriatic Arthritis

    Psoriasis is a skin disease that causes itchy or sore patches of thick, red skin with silvery scales. Some people who have psoriasis also get a form of arthritis (inflammation and swelling of joints) called psoriatic arthritis.

    This type of arthritis can be managed with treatment, and permanent damage can be prevented. However, the underlying cause (psoriasis) is currently incurable.

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    shoulder pain, lower back pain, joint pain, upper back pain, hip pain
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor

    Finger Pain Checker

    Take a quiz to find out why you’re having finger pain.

    Finger Pain Quiz
  6. 6.Boxer's Fracture

    Boxer's fracture is a term for a fracture of one of fingers and generally occurs after a closed fist makes contact with a hard object.

    With proper medical attention, a Boxer's Fracture heals within 4 months.

    Rarity:
    Common
    Top Symptoms:
    finger pain, swollen finger, finger bruise, punched a hard object
    Symptoms that always occur with boxer's fracture:
    finger pain, swollen finger, punched a hard object
    Urgency:
    In-person visit
  7. 7.Nail Infection (Paronychia)

    Paronychia is an infection of the nail folds, typically caused by Staph. Aureus. Or a fungus.

    Great prognosis. Recovery in the next two weeks

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    spontaneous finger pain, fingernail pain, fingernail swelling
    Urgency:
    Phone call or in-person visit
  8. 8.Finger That Is Bent Out of Shape

    You should have your finger x-rayed. It's not a good idea to try and fix the finger by yourself.

    MISSING

    Rarity:
    Uncommon
    Top Symptoms:
    bent or crooked finger
    Urgency:
    Hospital emergency room
  9. 9.Dislocated Finger

    Dislocations of the finger at the base of the finger are relatively rare. However, when they do happen, they can damage the blood supply to the finger and its nerves.

    Good prognosis with rehab

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    bent or crooked finger, finger dislocation at the middle knuckle, swollen finger, finger pain from an injury
    Symptoms that always occur with dislocated finger:
    bent or crooked finger, finger dislocation at the middle knuckle
    Urgency:
    In-person visit
  10. 10.Mallet Finger

    Mallet finger is an injury to the furthest knuckle tendon of the finger, which makes it impossible to straighten the tip of the finger.

    6-8 weeks with a splint

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    pain in the knuckle at the end of the finger, recent finger injury, finger pain from an injury, possible damage to the ligament that straightens the tip of the finger, inability to move the finger fully
    Symptoms that always occur with mallet finger:
    finger pain from an injury, pain in the knuckle at the end of the finger, possible damage to the ligament that straightens the tip of the finger
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor

Finger Pain Treatments and Relief

Not all cases of finger pain require a trip to the doctor.

If you're experiencing the following, seek out medical attention sooner than later.

  • Bleeding from an injury that won't stop
  • Visible trauma to the finger, such as a protruding bone
  • Signs of infection, including redness, warmth, and pus
  • Inability to move finger at all
  • Severe pain that shows little to no improvement over the course of several days

If you don't feel a trip to the doctor is necessary to treat your finger pain symptoms, there are several home care routes you can take.

  • R.I.C.E.: If there is no serious cause behind your finger pain, use the R.I.C.E. method. Rest the finger as much as possible and Ice it several times a day. Compress it when possible and Elevate it during periods of rest.
  • Buddy tape: Tape your injured finger to a healthy finger next to it. The tape should be stiff and not allow your fingers to move. This allows you to use part of your body as a natural splint and prevent your injured finger from moving while it heals. This is ideal for small fractures and sprains.
  • Pain relievers: To combat swelling and discomfort, over-the-counter pain relievers can be used as directed.
  • Epsom salt: For general pain, soaking your finger in a bowl with Epsom salt can soothe muscles and relax stiff joints.

Finger pain can take an otherwise good day and turn it into a mess. When you can't complete simple tasks without grimacing in pain, finding relief sooner than later is a must. Find the cause of your discomfort and follow up with either professional help or home treatments.

FAQs About Finger Pain

Here are some frequently asked questions about finger pain.

Why are my fingertips hurting?

Painful fingertips can be a minor problem or a dangerous sign of a serious disease. To discover why your fingertips are hurting, the first step is to review any activities that could lead to tenderness or pain along the fingertips. This includes musical instruments and texting. Other common causes of fingertip pain include disorders like Raynaud's Syndrome in which some of the fingers to not get adequate blood flow and worsen on exposure to cold.

Why are my fingers stinging?

Finger tips commonly sting when they are exposed to caustic agents like bleach or severe cold for long periods of time. It may also be a symptom of disorders that predispose one to pain in the cold like Raynaud's Syndrome or disease of clogged arteries like peripheral artery disease (PAD). If you have continual finger stinging, you should seek medical evaluation.

How do I know if my finger is broken?

A broken finger can best be identified by an X-ray or by a detailed clinical exam. Pain with movement can indicate either a sprain or a fracture, point tenderness or tenderness that is severe in only one spot can indicate a fracture. Treatment usually involves taping or bandaging the finger to the adjacent finger.

Can arthritis cause finger pain?

Yes, arthritis can cause finger pain. There are many types of arthritis, but the most common types (osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis) both cause finger pain. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) commonly causes morning stiffness that tends to abate over an hour to half an hour. Osteoarthritis, however, commonly becomes worse during the day.

Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Finger Pain

  • Q.Where on your finger is the pain worst?
  • Q.Do any of your body parts (e.g., toes, hands, ears) feel cold?
  • Q.Did you injure your finger?
  • Q.Did you get a manicure and/or pedicure in the past few days?

If you've answered yes to one or more of these questions, try our finger pain symptom checker to find out more.

Finger Pain Quiz

Finger Pain Symptom Checker Statistics

  • People who have experienced finger pain have also experienced:

    • 5% Pain in the Middle Knuckle of the Finger
    • 5% Swollen Finger
    • 4% Swollen Index Finger
  • People who have experienced finger pain had symptoms persist for:

    • 28% Over a Month
    • 27% Less Than a Week
    • 22% Less Than a Day
  • People who have experienced finger pain were most often matched with:

    • 66% Jammed Finger
    • 16% Raynaud Phenomenon
    • 16% Non - Serious Finger Injury
  • Source: Aggregated and anonymized results from visits to the Buoy AI health assistant (check it out by clicking on “Take Quiz”).

A.I. Health Assistant

Take a quiz to find out why you’re having finger pain

Finger Pain Quiz