Swollen fingers can result from many reasons. It can result from inflammation of tissues or joints or fluid built up in tissues or joints. It can also result from trauma or infection. Let’s explore some of the common causes of swollen fingers.
- Trauma or injury to the hand and fingers is common. It can injure the bone, tendon, or ligament, resulting in painful, swollen fingers with reduced mobility.
- Arthritis-It may be Rheumatoid arthritis (inflammatory), psoriatic (associated with a psoriasis-a skin condition), gouty (crystal deposits in the joint due to high uric acid levels in the body), or osteoarthritis (wearing down of cartilage at the end of the bones).
- Trigger finger-Also known as stenosing tenosynovitis. It is inflammation of the tendon sheath of fingers, which causes difficulty in bending and straightening fingers. One can feel a catching sensation when trying to move fingers. It is more common in people with rheumatoid arthritis or diabetes.
- Ganglion cysts, which are fluid-filled lumps that can develop near joints or tendons in the wrists and hands, such as at the base of fingers.
- Infections like herpes or fungal.
- Pregnancy-Swelling of the hands and fingers is common during pregnancy due to fluid built up. However, sudden swelling can be related to pre-eclampsia, a form of high blood pressure.
- Raynaud’s disease-It is the narrowing of arteries, often caused by cold weather or stress limiting blood circulation to the fingers.
- Lymphedema– It is fluid built up in fingers due to lymphatic dysfunction.
- Some serious conditions like kidney dysfunction or cancer metastasis.
Many factors help in determining the exact etiology of finger swelling; like how many fingers are involved, how the swelling developed or started, is it accompanied by pain, how does it look, and is it affecting the mobility of fingers. Altogether, it helps in planning the line of management for swollen fingers.
In general, one can rest the fingers, use buddy taping for immobilizing or splinting the fingers, apply ice to reduce the swelling, keep the fingers/hand elevated above the level of the heart and take anti-inflammatory over the counter NSAIDs.
If the swelling in fingers persists for more than three days, is very painful or traumatic, accompanied by pus, or develops suddenly in pregnancy, seek immediate medical care.
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