Middle Finger Pain
The fingers or digits of the hand are involved in performing various tasks throughout the day. Be it fine movements such as typing, writing, and painting or gross movements such as lifting weights, the fingers are involved in doing them all. The hand has 27 bones, 27 joints, 34 muscles and tendons, nerves, and blood vessels. It is structurally one of the most complicated parts of the body. Each digit in the hand has three bones called phalanges, except the thumb that has two phalanges. The phalanges are connected to the wrist by carpo-phalangeal joints and to each other by interphalangeal joints (two in the fingers and one in the thumb). Thus, each finger has several structures including the bones, joints, cartilages, muscles, nerves, tendons, and blood vessels. Any of the digits in the hand may develop symptoms such as pain and stiffness due to damage, overuse, or inflammation of any of these structures.
The middle finger or the long finger or digitus medius is the longest in the hand in most people. Several movements can occur at the middle finger including flexion, extension, and circular movement. Pain is a common complaint related to the hand. Middle finger pain may be associated with symptoms such as tenderness, redness, swelling, stiffness, numbness or tingling, burning sensation, and change in the color of the affected finger.
To treat the pain in your middle finger, you must know that there can be various causes for the pain such as:
- Injuries to the finger, such as cuts, bruises, fracture, or crush injury
- Wearing rings that are too tight
- Dislocation of middle finger joints
- Sprains and strains (undue stretching of ligaments or muscles)
- Arthritis, particularly rheumatoid arthritis
- Infection of nail bed known as paronychia (infection and pus formation in the skin adjacent to the nail)
- Carpal tunnel syndrome (pressure on the median nerve that passes through the wrist leading to pain, numbness, and tingling)
- Trigger finger or stenosing tenosynovitis (inflammation of the tendon sheath at the base of the finger making it difficult to bend or straighten the finger)
- Dupuytren’s contracture (thickening and tightness of the tissues in the palm causing finger movement difficulty)
- Ganglion cyst (a fluid-filled swelling that develops along the tendons or joints)
- Raynaud phenomenon (a medical condition affecting the blood vessels resulting in reduced flow of blood to the fingers on exposure to cold)
- Tumor (primary tumor or secondary tumor traveling from another site in the body)
The treatment of middle finger pain largely depends on the underlying cause of pain. You must consult your doctor if:
- The pain is intolerable or severe in intensity making it difficult for you to perform daily activities.
- There is severe swelling of your finger along with the pain.
- The pain developed following an injury.
- There is visible deformity of the middle finger.
- There is fever along with the pain.
- There is pus formation.
- There is a change in the skin color of the affected finger/hand.
- You experience loss of sensation/numbness or tingling in the finger/hand.
Most mild cases of middle finger can be managed at home in the following ways:
- Resting the affected finger/hand
- Removing finger rings, if any, if there is swelling
- Applying ice packs on the affected finger
- Taking warm compresses may ease pain because of acute infection such as paronychia
- Keeping the finger elevated to reduce swelling
- Protecting the hands from cold if you have been diagnosed with Raynaud’s phenomenon
- Over the counter pain medications such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen
- Buddy taping (strapping the affected finger with the adjacent finger) will provide rest to the injured finger. Buddy tape should not be bandaged too tightly because that can hamper blood circulation in the fingers.
If you do not get relief even after a week of home care or if the condition worsens, you must contact your healthcare provider for definitive management of the pain.
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