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What can Cause Painful Fingers?

By Tara Barnett
Updated Jan 24, 2024
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Many different problems can cause painful fingers, but some are more common than others. Pain in the fingers can be indicative of a serious disorder, so it is important to go see a doctor if the pain is persistent and not related to a direct injury. When thinking about finger pain, it is important to think about the kind of pain as well as the location. Pain in the knuckles is different than pain in the tips of fingers, and tingling is different than a dull ache. Being observant can help with a speedy diagnosis and often recovery.

Almost certainly, the most common cause of painful fingers is injury. Injuries can occur in single incidents, such as hitting or smashing the fingers, but they can also occur over a long period of time. People who use their fingers constantly for certain tasks may experience more injuries of this type than those who perform a variety of activities. It is possible for the fingers to become injured in this way from typing, playing an instrument, or even certain crafts. Sometimes, pain will surface only during the activity that caused the pain.

Injuries need not be from hitting the fingers. Painful fingers can result from injuries like burns, including sunburns, and may also occur when a person has frostbite. It is also possible to experience pain in the fingers when the problem is actually a skin problem resulting from touching something to which a person is allergic. There are many different ways to injure the fingers, and the source of the pain may not always be obvious.

Another common cause of painful fingers is arthritis. Pain due to arthritis is usually felt in the knuckles. Arthritis can be treated to a certain degree, so if someone believes the pain is due to arthritis it is a good idea to see a doctor.

Rarer causes of painful fingers include diseases like Raynaud's phenomenon, peripheral vascular disease, and other diseases that cause symptoms in the fingers. In some cases, diseases that cause pain in the fingers and toes can affect other parts of the body. These diseases can be more serious than simple pain, so it is important to discuss the pain with a doctor. Other problems that can cause finger pain include gout, nerve damage, and carpal tunnel.

Some finger pain is specific to certain movements, like moving the finger in a certain direction or at a certain time. Trigger finger, for example, is characterized by pain that occurs when moving a locked finger. Taking note of when severe pain occurs and what the sufferer was doing when the pain arose can be instrumental when determining the cause of finger pain. This type of pain can be caused by a wide variety of illnesses and injuries, so being specific is very important for diagnosis.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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