Causes and Treatment of Finger Joint Pain, What to Do

Finger joints usually start to hurt after 40-45 years (in 1 in 10 people this is due to age-related changes in the body). After 60 years, pain often occurs in the context of polyosteoarthritis (injuries, destruction of the articular cartilage of different joints).

Deformation and destruction of hand joints is diagnosed in 10% of the elderly.

In addition, pain in the finger joints is a characteristic symptom of diseases such as:

  • rheumatoid arthritis (in 80% of cases it starts with inflammation of the finger joints);
  • psoriatic arthritis (in 70% the fingers are the first to suffer);
  • gout (arthritis affecting the fingers, occurs in 10-15% of gout patients);
  • Osteomyelitis is an infectious inflammation of the bones (responsible for 6. 5% of all diseases of the musculoskeletal system).

Most arthritis, in which the joints of the fingers are primarily involved in the process, are systemic diseases (that is, they affect different systems in the body, not just the joints).They are diagnosed with equal frequency in people of any age, including young people; in men, they occur 3 to 5 times less.

Another cause of pain is mechanical injuries, consequences of blows or bruises on the hands (not uncommon in athletes, the prevalence reaches 40% of all traumatic injuries).

Some of the diseases that cause pain in the finger joints cannot be completely cured, but over time they become the cause of disabilities (rheumatoid, psoriatic arthritis, polyosteoarthritis). And, for example, osteomyelitis with timely treatment, you can get rid of it forever, but the process quickly becomes chronic and can lead to loss of a limb (in 30% of cases).

If you suspect a systemic disease (arthritis, polyosteoarthritis), you should consult a rheumatologist or arthrologist. Osteomyelitis is treated by an orthopedic traumatologist, surgeon, wounds - an orthopedic traumatologist.

Why Finger Joint Pain Occurs: Causes and Symptoms

Why do finger joints hurt? There are many reasons, as well as factors that can accelerate or push the process. Common predisposing factors for all diseases and injuries can be considered:

  1. Profession (this category includes people who work with brushes and fingers, musicians, seamstresses, programmers).
  2. Loads (injuries and microtrauma resulting from hours of sports training, rehearsals).
  3. Hormonal changes, disturbances (pregnancy, lack of estrogen in elderly women).
  4. Heredity (close relatives are more susceptible to systemic diseases).
  5. Immune system deficiencies or illnesses.
  6. Metabolic disorders (gout, diabetes mellitus).
  7. Chronic infections (tuberculosis).
  8. Hypothermia (hypothermia).
  9. Some long-term negative factors (among them - taking medication, poisoning with toxic substances in a dangerous company, smoking, alcoholism, etc. ).

The pathologies and conditions that cause pain in finger joints are described below in the article.


The pain that occurs after an injury is hard to confuse with anything else:

  • all symptoms occur immediately after a blow, bruise, compression, and other injuries;
  • swelling, bruises at the impact site, impaired joint mobility add to acute pain;
  • with moderate and severe damage, symptoms do not subside for long but become more pronounced - pain, stiffness, swelling;
  • discomfort increases when trying to bend or straighten your fingers.

Severe injuries to the fingers of the upper limb are combined with:

  • ruptures of muscles, ligaments, blood vessels, hemorrhage in the capsule (haemarthrosis) and soft tissue (bruises);
  • bone fractures and cracks;
  • nerve damage (loss of sensation in fingers and skin).

Prognosis: Minor wounds heal without a trace in 90–95% of cases. Severe and moderate injuries can cause a variety of complications - from impaired finger sensitivity to traumatic arthritis in 70%.


Polyosteoarthritis is a chronic condition in which the finger joints are gradually deformed and destroyed (there is a form of the disease that affects the thumb joints - rhizarthrosis).

Hands affected by polyosteoarthritis deformers

In the beginning, the throbbing pain appears after hard work (sewing, embroidery, many hours of rehearsing a musical instrument). As the disease progresses:

  • the pain in the joints of the fingers becomes constant, it does not disappear at rest;
  • snaps and snaps (during movements) are linked to the painful sensations;
  • stiffness appears (initially insignificant).

During periods of exacerbation, swelling, swelling, increased local temperature and sometimes redness in the joint area join the main symptoms.

Over time, the fingers become deformed:

  1. In the joints located closer to the nails, Heberden nodules (bony growths, pea-sized seals) are formed.
  2. Bouchard's nodules (proliferation of joint surfaces, bony spines) form in the middle joints.

Finger joints lose their original shape (become nodular) and, over time, lose mobility due to soft tissue ossification (ankylosis).

Prognosis: The pathology is incurable, but in the early stages (until the deformation appears) it can be suspended for a long time. Later, it becomes the cause of the deficiency (tissues grow together, ossify, finger mobility can only be restored with surgery).

Rheumatoid arthritis

Chronic inflammatory disease of the joints, which occurs with the involvement of other organs and systems in the pathological process (outer shell of the heart, lungs, vascular walls, skin).

Rheumatoid arthritis is characterized by:

  • a gradual increase and increase in symptoms (at first the exacerbation is replaced by fairly long periods of asymptomatic course, but these become shorter over time);
  • morning stiffness, reminiscent of tight gloves (disappears in 30-60 minutes);
  • sharp, sharp, boring pain in the knuckles of the fingers (in both hands), which, when bent, increases to unbearable;
  • redness, swelling, swelling, joint stiffness.

The pain syndrome usually occurs at night or in the morning and subsides slightly in the afternoon.

When acute symptoms subside (during remission), pain becomes less pronounced, painful, increases on movement, when working in cold water. Finger joints ache during flexion and extension, remain tender to the touch and slightly swollen.

Gradually, the disease leads to the formation of a stable deformity and dysfunction of the fingers - they turn outwards or upwards, bend (middle, index and anonymous are more affected, very rarely - little and big fingers), others joints are involved in the process (wrists, ankles, knees, shoulders) . . .

Prognosis: the pathology is incurable, progresses quickly and leads to disability, incapacity - 40% of cases during the first 5 years of development.

psoriatic arthritis

Psoriatic arthritis is a form of severe systemic disease (psoriasis).

The most characteristic signs of damage to finger joints:

  • sudden and abrupt onset of arthritis;
  • defeat of the interphalangeal and distal joints (closer to the nail);
  • constant, uniform, severe pain combined with extensive swelling, skin redness, limited mobility (the shape of the fingers at this time resembles a radish or sausage, it is impossible to bend or unfold the finger joints because of the pain and swelling);
  • increase in general temperature.

In the long term, it leads to destruction of the nail plates (they crumble, lose their shape), deformation of the fingers (they are "turned" outwards or upwards) and incapacity.

Prognosis: Psoriatic arthritis is incurable, difficult, progresses rapidly, and leads to disability in 90–95% of patients.

gouty arthritis

Gouty arthritis occurs in the context of metabolic disorders, due to which excess uric acid accumulates in the body. It falls into joint tissue, causing inflammation.

Deposition of uric acid crystals in the soft tissue of the fingers with gouty arthritis

Typical signs of gouty arthritis:

  1. Sharp, sudden, throbbing or burning pain in one or more finger joints.
  2. Any attempt to move the finger or touch it aggravates the unpleasant symptom.
  3. It is accompanied by intense swelling, which often spreads to the whole hand, a change in skin color (the finger turns bluish-purple), an increase in general temperature (the patient has fever, chills) .
  4. Finger joint pain usually occurs at night.
  5. The attack can last from 2 days to 2 weeks.

Progressive gouty arthritis becomes the reason for the involvement of new joints in the process, their deformation (destruction of joint surfaces). Tofuses, uric acid deposits in tissues, appear on the fingers.

Prognosis: Gout is incurable, but uric acid levels can be maintained with medication and diet. The disease rarely causes total disability in the patient (5–8%), but over time it can destroy the finger joints (secondary arthrosis).

Why else can finger joints hurt?

Other causes of pain include the following diseases and conditions:


This infectious lesion of the bones (periosteum, spongy and compact substance) usually starts acutely - the joint pain in osteomyelitis is severe, sharp, spasmodic, bursting or tearing. When flexing or extending, it increases to unbearable, accompanied by intense swelling, redness and thickening of the joint tissues, fever and signs of general intoxication (weakness, sweating). In 30% of cases, osteomyelitis becomes chronic (it can happen again) and the pain in the fingers becomes painful. The process can cause purulent arthritis, bone tissue malignancy, bone and joint deformation.


Vasospasm is a marked narrowing of the peripheral vessels that supply blood to the upper limbs, hands, and finger joints. It is characterized by tingling sensations, numbness, paleness of the skin. At the end of the attack (which can be of short duration - 2 minutes, or long - up to 60 minutes), the fingers start to hurt, "pain" and the skin on the hands becomes red. Over time, a similar phenomenon (vasospasm) becomes the cause of trophic ulcers (tissue necrosis from malnutrition), bone melting, and fingertip necrosis.


Pregnancy is not a pathological condition, however, it is accompanied by acute and rapid hormonal changes in the body, accelerated metabolism. Pain in the joints of the fingers, or better, pain, can cause a lack of calcium and vitamin D3, in addition to the excess of the hormone that prepares the body for childbirth, relaxing the ligaments.

Diagnosis: methods, research

When your knuckle hurts, what to do? First, it is necessary to diagnose the pathologies that cause this symptom. Most of the time, the treating physician prescribes a series of studies:

Method name What allows you to diagnose


With its help, pathological changes in bones, joint deformity, crystal deposition, tissue ossification are detected.

Magnetic resonance imaging, computed tomography or ultrasound

These diagnostic methods make it possible to establish any pathological changes in the periarticular tissues and joint that are not visible on radiographs.

ECG, ultrasound of internal organs

Helps to identify extra-articular manifestations characteristic of certain diseases (pericarditis, pneumonitis)


The study of blood vessels is informative for pathologies that occur with damage to their walls and can cause vasospasm (rheumatoid arthritis)

clinical laboratory research

With the help of analyses, the cause of the disease is determined, infections and pathogens from the pathological process are detected.

Therapeutic and diagnostic puncture of the joints (procedure for extracting fluid from the joint capsule)

The puncture is performed if blood (haemarthrosis), pus (infectious processes) or a large amount of fluid accumulates in it, which impedes mobility and threatens destruction

Treatment: principles, drugs, characteristics

Some of the diseases or conditions that cause pain in the joints of the fingers are incurable (vasospasm, osteoarthritis, psoriatic, gouty arthritis). Some are completely cured and without consequences (with timely treatment - osteomyelitis, minor and moderate injuries).

General principles of treatment, pain relief methods

Common in the treatment of all diseases that cause pain in the joints of the fingers is the indication of medications that help to eliminate severe symptoms.

Usually this:

  • nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), which successfully relieve inflammation and pain;
  • glucocorticoids, which are prescribed if NSAIDs are ineffective;
  • pain relievers if joint pain cannot be relieved by other means.

Once the symptoms subside, the patient is prescribed: chondroprotective agents to delay or prevent cartilage destruction and physical therapy.

Physical therapy stimulates metabolic processes, accelerates tissue regeneration. Of the physiotherapeutic procedures for joint diseases, the most popular are:

  • drug electrophoresis;
  • magnetotherapy;
  • UHF (ultra high frequency therapy);
  • reflexology (acupuncture);
  • massage;
  • mud therapy;
  • balneotherapy (hydrotherapy);
  • heating procedures (paraffin, ozokerite applications);
  • therapeutic gymnastics (exercises to strengthen the finger joints).

If it is necessary to eliminate pain in the joints of the fingers and their causes, treatment in a sanatorium can give good results. Under the guidance of the assistant physician, the patient has the opportunity to change the climate once or twice a year, take a course in restorative physiotherapeutic procedures, and drink mineral water from natural sources.

Characteristics of the treatment of specific pathologies

In addition to the general methods and means, there are nuances in the treatment of each pathology:

Pathology Treatment characteristics


Trauma treatment is stage by stage. First, the victim receives first aid (fixation bandage, ice pack for 24 hours).

If necessary, a puncture is performed, tissue integrity is restored (in case of severe damage) and immobilized with plaster.

On day 3-5, they begin to heat up, stimulating healing.


Early in the disease, the use of chondroprotective and physical therapy exercises are effective.

Afterwards, only the operation helps (the problem is solved with prostheses).

Rheumatoid arthritis

Prescribe basic anti-inflammatories, antibiotics, antibacterials, anti-allergy medications, medications that affect the activity of the immune system.

psoriatic arthritis

gouty arthritis

They treat the underlying disease (gout) by prescribing agents that regulate the formation and accelerate the excretion of uric acid, drugs that dissolve salt deposits in tissues.

A mandatory part of treatment is a strict diet during an attack (Table 6), a less strict diet throughout life.


Surgical lavage of purulent cavities in bone tissue, opening of abscesses is performed.

For treatment, antibiotics, antibacterial drugs are used.


How to treat vasospasm? In the pathology, vasodilator drugs and antispasmodics (relaxing the muscles of the vascular walls), anticoagulants are prescribed.

Eliminate triggering factors (eg smoking) or treat the underlying disease against which vasospasm has appeared (eg rheumatoid arthritis).

Popular remedies (treatment of pathologies, pain relief)

Finger joint pain can also be treated with remedies according to popular recipes:

  1. Infusion in eucalyptus leaves. Take 40 g of eucalyptus leaves, pour a liter of boiling water, let it stand for 60 minutes under the lid. When ready, strain, drain into a dark glass container and store in the refrigerator. Take every day for 2 weeks - 3 times 50 ml, 30 minutes before meals.
  2. Treatment of pain in the joints of the fingers with an infusion of blackcurrant leaves. Pour 10 g of raw material with 0, 5 liters of boiling water, let infuse under the lid for 20 minutes. Drink a glass 2-3 times a day. The course duration is 2-3 months.
  3. Warming ointment for arthritis. Take 50 g of camphor and mustard powder each, dilute them one by one in 100 ml of alcohol, add the foamed egg whites. Rub in brushes overnight. The treatment of finger joints continues for 21 days, after a while the course can be repeated.
  4. Friction with oil. Dilute fir essential oil with vegetable oil (1: 1), rub into knuckles until completely absorbed before going to bed. First, you need to "warm up": boil the washed potato skins in water, when the broth has cooled down (to warm up nicely), immerse your brushes in it and hold for 15-25 minutes, then rinse with clean water. They continue to be treated this way for 3 weeks or until the symptoms of the disease disappear.


How to prevent pathologies that cause pain in the finger joints? For this you need:

  • get rid of bad habits (stop smoking and drinking alcohol);
  • introducing into the diet foods that are useful for the joints and cartilage tissue (with a sufficient content of calcium, phosphorus, other minerals and vitamins, proteins);
  • get regular checkups, getting rid of chronic infection foci (eg, tonsillitis);
  • do not overload (alternate load with rest) and do not overcool your hands.

It is very important to strengthen the immune system (swimming, yoga, walking) and finger joints with corrective gymnastics exercises.