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Finger Pain Explained

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Finger pain and stiffness are common complaints heard from older adults. They occur for a variety of reasons, but no matter the cause, finger pain can affect one’s ability to enjoy their favorite or everyday activities, including cooking and playing sports.

Pain in the fingers may come and go or become chronic with persistent pain, depending on the cause. Discover some of the most common causes of finger pain below.


Perhaps the most obvious cause of finger pain is injury. We’ve all jammed our fingers or fell on our hands and experienced the familiar, throbbing pain that comes with it. Finger injuries can happen to anyone and typically go away on their own with the natural healing process. Broken fingers require medical care, but more acute injuries generally heal with time and rest.

Trigger Finger

Trigger finger is the common term for the condition stenosing tenosynovitis. It occurs when the tendon in the base of the finger becomes inflamed and locks up in a straightened or bent position. An individual with trigger finger will have difficulty moving their affected finger out of its locked position.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

The carpal tunnel is a narrow passageway in the wrist made up of bones and ligaments. There is a median nerve that runs through this passageway that is responsible for the pain associated with carpal tunnel syndrome. If the median nerve swells or becomes compressed, it can cause pain, tingling and numbness that may radiate up the arm.

Ganglion Cyst

Ganglion cysts are fluid-filled lumps that typically occur near the joints or tendons in the hands. While they are generally benign, they may cause pain or tingling in some cases. Ganglion cysts can occur in anyone at any age, and there are few known direct causes.


Both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis can cause moderate to severe finger pain. Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis and occurs as the cartilage protecting the finger joints wears down. Rheumatoid arthritis is less common and is actually an autoimmune condition where the immune system incorrectly attacks the healthy joint tissue.

When to See a Doctor

If finger pain is consistently getting in the way of your ability to carry out day-to-day activities, it may be time to seek medical help. For a fracture, dislocation or infection, it is important to seek medical assistance right away.

If you’re interested in speaking with one of The Orthopaedic Institute’s physicians, request your appointment online today!

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