Finger arthritis

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An individual with finger arthritis has difficulty with fine movements. It is important to note that the fingers can extend, flex and move sideways in a wide range of motion. The flexibility allows one to perform fine motor movements.

Do I have finger arthritis?

The finger is comprised of 3 joints – base, middle and towards the fingertip. Arthritis can affect any of these which brings about a range of uncomfortable symptoms.

The initial symptoms might include stiffness and an achy, dull pain in the finger. Swelling is also present. Oftentimes, there is a grating or grinding sensation felt when the finger is used. As the condition progresses, there are bony nodules at the affected joints as well as deformities in the finger. In addition, the finger might appear bent to the side or permanently flexed.

The initial symptoms might include stiffness and an achy, dull pain in the finger.

Oftentimes, the doctor might be able to tell if the individual has finger arthritis by looking at the hands and checking the symptoms, particularly evident swelling, deformity and nodules over the joints. Tests are also carried out to confirm a diagnosis such as blood tests, X-ray and a bone scan.

Who are at risk?

The risk factors for ending up with finger arthritis include the following:

  • Individuals over 50 years old
  • Family history of arthritis
  • Previous injury or surgery to the hands
  • Smoking


If finger arthritis is managed early, the better the outcome. The treatment includes measures to control the symptoms and maintain function of the affected finger.

  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as naproxen and ibuprofen to manage the pain and inflammation.
  • Corticosteroid injection into the affected joint to manage the pain and inflammation.
  • Cold and heat therapy
  • Using a splint to support the affected joint
  • The use of adaptive equipment to help the individual perform daily activities.

Depending on the cause, the doctor might recommend surgery if the individual could no longer use the finger or the pain is intense. Joint fusion and replacement are the commonly used surgical options.

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