Knuckle Pain


The joints in your hands and fingers, commonly known as knuckles, are among the most delicate in your body. More so than sturdier joints like the hips and shoulders, the finger joints are prone to injuries such as dislocation and fracturing, as well as diseases like rheumatoid arthritis.

Finger dislocation is a very common injury. In a dislocation, the bones are jolted out of their normal position, due to excess force or overextension, when the finger is bent too far in one direction or when it is pulled outward from the joint. This injury occurs when people fall and catch themselves with one hand, when catching a fast-moving ball or other object, bending their fingers backward, or catching a finger in something, pulling it out of the joint. It can happen to any finger joint, but the middle knuckle of any finger (excluding the thumb) are the most common. The area will swell and most likely will be visibly out of place; you may experience numbness, tingling, or pain and probably will not be able to move your finger normally – in any case, it requires immediate medical treatment.

Unfortunately, rheumatoid arthritis is one of the foremost causes of knuckle pain. This autoimmune disease causes the cartilage that lines joints and acts as padding between bones to deteriorate, leading to painful friction when the bones slide past one another. The hands are one of the first areas to show symptoms (which may not be the case with osteoarthritis): one or more knuckles, usually the larger ones in the middle and at the base of the finger, become swollen and painful. The swelling is often visible, noticeable in the knuckle itself as opposed to the whole finger. In the early stages, the inflammation is accompanied by a dull, burning pain which worsens following physical activity; the knuckles may also feel tender and warm to the touch.

As the illness progresses, the pain becomes more intense and more consistent, making normal motions such as gripping or making a fist difficult or impossible. If the knuckles closest to the fingertip, and the large one at the base of the thumb show these symptoms, they are more likely the result of osteoarthritis. Arthritis is easier to treat if diagnosed early, so see a doctor if your knuckles show symptoms that last for more than a few weeks.


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