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Joint Pain In Fingers: An Overview

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Joint pain and stiffness is a common condition that afflicts people of all ages and genders. While most people have experienced joint pain at one point in their lives, regular joint pain can interfere with day-to-day life or cause discomfort. 

This is especially true if the joint pain is located in the fingers, knuckles, or small joints of the hands and wrist, which are used a lot more than other joints in the body. 

The joints in our fingers help us perform thousands of tasks, from typing to picking up a spoon or waving hello at a friend. We must understand what causes pain in our finger joints and how we can alleviate it. 

What Are Joints?

Joints connect bones and tissue to allow for movement. Joints are composed of bone, muscles, and other types of tissue. They are predominantly made up of cartilage, which is softer and more flexible than bone. 

There are different types of joints located in our bodies. 

Different Types of Joints

  • Immovable joints do not allow for movement between bones. 
  • Slightly movable joints attach bones very tightly. Only a limited range of movement can occur. 
  • Freely movable joints allow for a range of movements between bones. 

There are six different types of freely movable joints. 

  • Ball and socket joints allow for movement in all directions.
  • Saddle joints allow for side-to-side movement. 
  • Hinge joints allow for bones to open and close in one direction.
  • Condyloid joints allow movement without rotation in specific parts of the body. 
  • Pivot joints allow for swiveling motions. 
  • Gliding joints limit movement. Bones connected by these joints glide over each other. 

The bones in our fingers are joined by many different joints, including hinge and saddle joints that allow them to make precise movements. 

What Causes Joint Pain In Fingers?

Like any type of joint pain in the body, joint pain in the fingers can have many different causes. Here are some of the most common. 

Injury

Spraining your hand or fingers can result in pain in the related tendon or ligament, even if you are an otherwise healthy individual. It is important to seek medical treatment if a sprain or a hand injury swells or causes excessive pain. 

Overuse 

If you use your hands and fingers a lot, you may experience some joint pain. This may occur due to a repetitive job or task, such as typing on a keyboard, writing, or fine arts.

Inflammation 

Inflammation is an immune system response to damage in a particular area of the body. Injury, disease, or friction can cause inflammation in the joints.  

Disease, Deformity, or Disorder

Several serious health conditions may affect joint function and health. A few of these include types of arthritis, like osteoarthritis, psoriatic arthritis, or rheumatoid arthritis, Raynaud’s phenomenon, or autoimmune disease. Boutonniere deformity or swan-neck deformity in the hands can also lead to pain.

Temporary Pain Solutions

There are many ways to relieve symptoms of finger joint pain temporarily. While these methods may be effective for only a few hours, they are worth noting. 

  • Over the Counter Pain Medication: Pain relievers and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin, acetaminophen, naproxen, and ibuprofen can help relieve joint pain and tenderness for a few hours. 
  • Stretching: Stretching your hands and fingers may help alleviate pain by reducing cramping and changing the position of your joints. 
  • Rest: It is very important to take breaks and rest if you have a job in which you use your hands and fingers a lot. Repetitive movement can add stress to your joints and increase pain. 

Long Term Joint Health

For long-term joint pain relief, you must focus on your overall joint health and consult your healthcare provider for assistance. A doctor may recommend physical therapy following joint replacement surgery or in cases of a common form of arthritis. Your doctor may recommend certain surgical options, steroid injections, antirheumatic drugs, or blood tests, depending on what is causing your symptoms. 

Supporting joint health can be part of a balanced lifestyle. 

Diet 

A nutritious diet ensures that your body is healthy. While we must regularly consume all of the essential nutrients we need, there are a few you should focus on if you want stronger joints. These include:

Protein

Protein is the bullying block for many of our body tissues and is essential for repairing and maintaining our joints. You can get protein by consuming lean meat, poultry, dairy, and nuts. 

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Fat in our bodies helps absorb nutrients, build tissue, and provide protection. In fact, joints are composed of specific amounts of fat. Focus on consuming healthy fats by eating fish, nuts, and seeds. 

Calcium

Calcium is one of the important minerals that make up our bone tissue and, therefore, our joint tissue. Make sure you are getting enough calcium by eating dairy and dark leafy greens. 

Herbal Supplements 

To help decrease inflammation and pain in finger joints, you may want to consider taking supplements and herbs as a regular part of your routine. Here are a few to look into. 

  • Ashwagandha 
  • Ginger 
  • Turmeric 
  • Garlic 

You can consume such herbal supplements in several different ways. They can be boiled and made into tea or added to food. 

Other Tips 

Aside from dietary changes or the use of supplements, there are a couple of other strategies that may bring you relief from painful finger joints.

Exercise is beneficial for body health, but it may not always target the smaller joints in your fingers as much as the larger ones in your legs and arms. Despite this, it is still very important that you keep your body moving and nutrients flowing throughout your body. 

Resting your hands can also help them recover from pain, and resting your whole body helps repair and rebuild any damaged tissues. 

Conclusion

Joint pain in the fingers is a common ailment, and it can result from medical conditions like arthritis or carpal tunnel syndrome, injuries like muscle strain, or repetitive motions. 

Joint pain can impact your quality of life, but a few simple changes may make a big difference. Maintaining a balanced diet, practicing hand and wrist exercises or stretches, and trying over-the-counter pain relievers may work to bring you relief.  

Consult a doctor before using any supplements or pain-relieving medications to self-treat. Be sure to get a professional opinion if you do not know what is causing your symptoms.

Sources:

Joints | Better Health  

Arthritis of the Hand: Symptoms, Types & Treatments | Cleveland Clinic 

Foods for Fighting Inflammation, Arthritis and Joint Pain | Life Span

Healthy Directions Staff Editor