Pain - finger
Finger pain is pain in one or more fingers. Injuries and many medical conditions can cause finger pain.
Nearly everyone has had finger pain at some time. You may have:
- Change in skin color
Many conditions, such as arthritis, can cause finger pain. Numbness or tingling in the fingers may be a sign of a problem with nerves or blood flow. Redness and swelling can be a sign of infection or inflammation.
Injuries are a common cause of finger pain. Your finger may become injured from:
- Playing contact sports such as football, baseball, or soccer
- Doing recreational activities such as skiing or tennis
- Using machinery at home or work
- Doing tasks at home, such as cooking, gardening, cleaning, or repairs
- Getting into a fist fight or punching something
- Doing repetitive movements like typing
Injuries that can cause finger pain include:
- Smashed fingers, such as from a hammer blow or a car door that crushes the finger.
- Compartment syndrome, which is severe swelling and pressure in an area of muscles, nerves, and blood vessels. A crushing injury can cause this serious condition, which requires immediate medical attention.
- Mallet finger, when you can't straighten your finger. Sports injuries are a common cause.
- Finger strains, sprains, and bruises.
- Broken finger bones.
- Skier's thumb, an injury to the ligaments in your thumb, such as from a fall during skiing.
- Cuts and puncture wounds.
Certain conditions can also cause finger pain:
- Arthritis, the breakdown of cartilage in the joint that causes inflammation with pain, stiffness, and swelling.
- Carpal tunnel syndrome, pressure on the nerve in the wrist, or other nerve problems causing numbness and pain in the hand and fingers.
- Raynaud phenomenon, a condition that results in blocked blood flow to the fingers when it is cold.
- Trigger finger, when a swollen finger tendon makes it hard to straighten or bend your finger.
- Dupuytrens contracture, which causes tissue in the palm of the hand to become tighter. This makes it hard to straighten the fingers.
- De Quervain tenosynovitis, which is pain in the tendons along the thumb side of the wrist from overuse.
Often, care at home is enough to relieve finger pain. Start by avoiding activities that cause finger pain.
If finger pain is due to a minor injury:
- Remove any rings in case of swelling.
- Rest the finger joints so they can heal.
- Apply ice and elevate the finger.
- Use over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen (Motrin) or naprosyn (Aleve) to reduce both pain and swelling.
- If needed, buddy tape the injured finger to the one next to it. This will help protect the injured finger as it heals. Don't tape it too tight, which can cut off circulation.
- If you have a lot of swelling or the swelling does not go away in a day or so, see your health care provider. Small fractures or tendon or ligament tears can occur, and can lead to problems in the future if not treated correctly.
If finger pain is due to a medical condition, follow your provider's instructions for self-care. For example, if you have Raynaud phenomenon, take steps to protect your hands from the cold.
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Call your provider if:
- Your finger pain is caused by injury
- Your finger is deformed
- The problem continues after 1 week of home treatment
- You have numbness or tingling in your fingers
- You have severe pain at rest
- You can't straighten your fingers
- You have redness, swelling, or fever
What to Expect at Your Office Visit
The provider will do a physical exam, which will include looking at your hand and finger movement.
You will be asked questions about your medical history and symptoms.
You may have an x-ray of your hand.
Treatment depends on the cause of the problem.
Mailhot T, Lyn ET. Hand. In: Marx JA, Hockberger RS, Walls RM, et al, eds. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2014:chap 50.
Rafferty AT, Ostor AJK. Finger pain. In: Rafferty AT, Ostor AJK, eds. Churchill's Pocketbook of Differential Diagnosis. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Churchill Livingstone; 2014:chap 153-159.
Swigart CR, Fishman FG. Hand and wrist pain. In: Firestein GS, Budd RC, Gabriel SE, McInnes IB, O'Dell JR, eds. Kelley and Firestein’s Textbook of Rheumatology. 10th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2017:chap 50.
Last reviewed on: 12/10/2016
Reviewed by: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.