3 Causes of Stiff, Painful Fingers

3 Causes of Stiff, Painful Fingers

We use our hands every day, so putting up with intense finger pain can be impossibly frustrating and have a significant impact on our ability to do everyday tasks. If you are dealing with pain and swelling in your hands and fingers, the cause may not be immediately obvious

Read on for 3 common causes of stiff, painful fingers. 

1. Trigger Finger

The tendon in your finger that controls it movement are surrounded by a protective sheath. This sheath allows the tendon to pull and retract smoothly. “Trigger finger,” also known as stenosing tenosynovitis, is a condition where your tendon’s protective sheath becomes inflamed or irritated, which prevents the tendon from moving smoothly and can cause your finger to become locked in a bent position. Trigger finger is more common in women than in men, and individuals with careers or hobbies that require repeated or long-term gripping are at an increased risk of developing trigger finger.

2. Arthritis

If you’re experiencing pain and stiffness in your hand, you may be suffering from arthritis. Arthritis comes in many shapes and sizes, with two of the most common types being osteoarthritis—the wearing away of cartilage in your hand due to injury or age—and rheumatoid arthritis, which is an autoimmune disease. Regardless of the type of arthritis, it’s important to see a specialist as soon as possible if you think you may have developed it. Complications from arthritis can lead to bigger problems down the road if left unchecked, and early intervention is key. The pain and swelling you feel can often be managed using NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) such as aspirin, but if your pain is persistent, see a hand and wrist specialist for an evaluation as soon as possible to discuss your treatment options. For more information on arthritis pain, read this great explanation from the Arthritis Foundation: Sources of Arthritis Pain.

3. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is caused by increased pressure on the nerve that runs through the carpal tunnel in your wrist. The nerve, called the median nerve, controls the movement of all of your fingers except your pinky and, when the median nerve is under pressure, these fingers can feel pain, numbness or the sensation that they are asleep.Carpal tunnel is common amongst people who type at their computer and can also result from excessive mobile phone usage.  In some cases, carpal tunnel can be treated by applying heat, immobilization of the wrist or through medications and inflammatory medications such as NSAIDs.

If you’re experiencing stiffness or pain in your fingers, make an appointment with one of our wrist and hand specialists, Dr. Curd and Dr. Jones, at the Orthopedic Institute.