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Pain in the fingers – the most common causes, treatment and prevention suggestions

Posted Nov 02 2012 9:23pm

Are you suffering from pain in the fingers? When the pain lasts for just a couple of days, and goes away, it’s probably because you’ve simply injured yourself.  Trauma to the joints, muscles or nerves of your fingers may result from simple things such as: extensive use of an uncomfortable keyboard, any repetitive action done with the particular fingers, sports or a incident at home.  When you experience pain in your fingers, which you know is trauma related, and the pain is persistent and strong, it is best to visit your doctor, because a bone may be broken or ligament could be torn.  Also if there is excessive bleeding from a cut or other injury of the finger, you may need medical attention to close the wound. Otherwise, usually the pain in the fingers resulting from such injuries passes and is quickly forgotten.

In case the pain is unexplainable and consistent, continuing for longer periods of time, then the reason may be a more serious health condition.  Here are some of the most common reasons for pain in the fingers.

Types of pain in the fingers and the possible causes

If you are feeling more of a tingling “pins and needles” sort of feel in your fingers, this may mean you have incurred damage to the nerves in the finger. This condition is usually temporary, but in some case, the damage or pressure may be of a permanent kind. It is called paresthesias, and in case the tingling and numbness continues for a prolonged period of time, it may be a good idea to visit a doctor.

When the pain is stronger and the soreness persists, this may mean you have an inflammation of some sort, resulting from a more serious health condition, which needs treatment. Such illnesses, which could cause pain, burning in fingers, include diabetes, herniated disc, arthritis (rheumatic, age-related wear-and-tear or septic), and injury to the nerves, spinal cord or neck. If your finger has become swollen, red and is warm, it is always a good idea to seek medical attention.

Sometimes, pain in the fingers, may arise as a result of conditions, which damage the human nervous system, including: alcoholism, multiple sclerosis, a stroke and even poisoning with heavy metals.

Other reasons for such pain occurring may be a lack or reduction of blood flow and circulation and frostbite.

When to seek medical attention about pain in the fingers, Carpal tunnel syndrome

Anyway, despite of the actual cause, if the pain is persistent or sharp, you should consult with a medical expert, because some conditions may lead to a permanent deformity of the finger, inability to move or use the finger and in the most severe cases, even amputation.

An ailment which occurs in about one of every twenty people, especially in women, is the carpal tunnel syndrome. The main symptom of this illness is intense pain in all fingers with the exception of the little finger and only half of the ring finger.

The cause of this syndrome is caused by pressure on the median nerve resulting of swelling of the ligament “tunnel” formed in the wrist. The result is: tingling, numbness and sharp pain in these fingers, especially at night. The causes are most often related to doing repetitive movements with the wrist, or can be a result from other conditions, including a wrist trauma, alcoholism, diabetes, pregnancy, hyperthyroidism , obesity, etc.  Often the cause, maybe something as simple as the position a person sleeps in, such as on their wrist, on their side, or with flexed wrists.

People who engage in excessive typing, writing, guitar playing, driving or use of any other tool, instrument, repetitively with movements from the wrist, are at higher risk of being struck by the carpal tunnel syndrome pain in the fingers.

The symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome gradually increase in their intensity, the numbness continues, the thumb may be affected by atrophy, and can actually become unusable when the condition is left untreated, and the pain in the fingers will increase, especially during the night.

The syndrome can easily be diagnosed by e Doctor, through a series of tests with electro diagnostics, or through physical tests to estimate the intensity at which the nerve is affected.

The treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome can be unobtrusive, such as using braces for the wrist and fingers affected which immobilizes the wrist especially at night, and keeps the “tunnel” from applying pressure on the swollen nerve. The therapy may also include physiotherapeutic massages, exercises and other similar physical treatment.  For better and more permanent results, often, the physical therapy is also accompanied by medical treatment, such as injections with cortisone as well as oral, topical and injected anti-inflammatory drugs, which are for relieving the swelling of the median nerve.

Some people prefer alternative medicine and remedies to cope with the painful condition. Treatments and practices such as acupuncture, yoga and chiropractic therapy are said to relieve the symptoms, but no scientific evidence is available about the effectiveness of permanent treatment.

A more invasive approach is the surgical opening of the carpal tunnel, to allow for more space for the nerves, and releases them from the pressure, which causes the pain in the fingers and all other related symptoms. The carpal tunnel syndrome surgery is one of the most commonly performed surgical procedures today, and can be done as an open surgery or a less-invasive endoscopic procedure.  In most cases, except the extremely severe ones, the surgery is very effective and permanently relieves the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome.

Nowadays, the development of more ergonomic tools, instruments, keyboards is progressing. Also, there are essential exercises and rest periods for people who work with machinery and other tasks, which may cause the occurrence of this syndrome. The problem with carpal tunnel syndrome is that there is no evidence that it is not hereditary, and thus there are few preventive measures which can be taken to avoid being affected, if you are genetically predisposed.

Anyway, if you experiencing a pain in the fingers, numbness, tingling, swelling, weakness or any of the other related symptoms, it is a good idea to visit your doctor’s office to get a professional opinion, and take all appropriate measures in time.

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