5 reasons your finger hurts when it’s bent but doesn’t swell

Finger Hurts to Bend but Not Swollen

Finger pain and stiffness can keep you from the activities you depend on. For example, if you work in an office, finger pain may prevent you from typing comfortably on your keyboard. If you work outside or in a warehouse, you may not be able to handle your equipment properly. It’s important to address your finger pain as soon as you can. And that starts with figuring out why your finger hurts when you’re bending it.

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Symptoms that can help narrow down the cause of your finger pain

Many conditions can cause finger pain that worsens with movement or after long periods of inactivity. These same conditions may occur without swelling, which can make diagnosing your pain more difficult. The other symptoms that accompany your finger pain can tell medical professionals more about its source, so it’s important to pay attention to them. Other symptoms you should pay attention to include: 

  • Shooting pain. 
  • Tingling up your wrist. 
  • Tenderness at the finger joint. 
  • Difficulty bending your finger. 
  • Redness at the site of pain. 

5 conditions that can make your finger hurt with minimal swelling when bending it

You may not think your finger pain fits a common diagnosis, especially if your finger hurts when you bend it and you don’t notice swelling. However, many injuries and conditions can lead to minimal swelling, even if your finger hurts every time you bend it. You may be experiencing symptoms of any of the following injuries: 

  • Osteoarthritis — One common issue that can lead to finger pain with minimal swelling when bending the finger is osteoarthritis. This type of arthritis occurs when the cartilage in your finger joints has naturally worn away over time. Although swelling and pain are both common symptoms of osteoarthritis, pain is often one of the first symptoms you’ll notice. This pain often worsens when you bend your fingers, but not every individual experiences swelling right away. A lack of swelling could simply be how your body reacts to arthritis. On the other hand, arthritis in your finger may not have progressed yet, meaning that significant joint damage has not yet occurred. Physical therapy exercises can help prevent further joint damage due to arthritis. 
  • Peripheral neuropathy — Another condition that can lead to pain when bending your finger with minimal swelling is peripheral neuropathy. Peripheral nerves are nerves that are not located in the brain or spinal cord. When these nerves are damaged — whether by diabetes, blunt force or an infection — peripheral neuropathy symptoms can occur. Peripheral neuropathy in the fingers can happen after a traumatic work injury, such as accidentally smashing the fingers with a hammer. People with peripheral neuropathy may experience pain when moving the affected body part. Numbness, tingling and muscle weakness are also telltale symptoms of this condition. Physical therapy can help release tension around the nerves in your finger and help ease your pain. 
  • Bone fractures — Finger bone fractures can cause pain when you bend your finger, and they may not always cause swelling. Although fractures are often linked to symptoms like swelling and redness, a smaller, hairline fracture may not produce enough swelling for you to notice a difference. In most cases, finger bone fractures are injuries that happen during sports or in accidents at home or work. You should see a medical professional as soon as possible if you suspect you have a finger fracture; a poorly healed fracture can lead to other finger issues later.
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when a major nerve in the hand is compressed by the carpal ligament. Tingling and numbness are usually the main symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome, and they can begin in the finger and travel down the wrist. You can get carpal tunnel syndrome after repeating the same hand motion over a long period of time, or by injuring the median nerve. Some people with carpal tunnel syndrome say their fingers feel useless and swollen, even though little or no swelling is apparent. Manual therapy and rest can often help ease carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms.  
  • Tendinitis — Tendinitis can occur when you stretch or tear a tendon due to overuse or trauma. If you strained a tendon in your finger, you may feel pain that intensifies when you engage your other fingers, your elbows or your wrists. While those with tendinitis often experience swelling, it is possible to stretch your tendon with little to no swelling. Rest, ice and compression can help treat a finger strain. Gentle strengthening exercises can especially help restore your weakened muscles and encourage healing in your finger. 

Excel Sports & Physical Therapy can help with finger or hand pain

People dealing with finger or hand pain can find help for their pain at Excel Sports & Physical Therapy. We have certified hand therapists in our St. Peters and Wentzville, Missouri, clinics, and we offer free screenings to help you get your treatment started. The screening provides us with information that we use to build the most effective therapy plan for you, and it helps us to choose the best therapy methods for your plan from options like: 

Are you ready to begin treating your finger or hand issues with help from our team? Contact us today for more information or to schedule an initial appointment.

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