How Long Does a Swollen Finger Last?

Feb 25, 2024

How Long Does a Swollen Finger LastDealing with a swollen finger can be such a nuisance! As you gingerly go about your daily tasks, the frustration mounts, fueled by the nagging question of if or when relief will come. Every slight movement of your hand serves as a reminder of the discomfort, making you long for the return to normalcy. You may find yourself wondering, “How long does a swollen finger last?” Let’s dive into what can cause a swollen finger, how long it can last, and what goes into healing a swollen finger.

Common Causes of a Swollen Finger

Several factors can lead to a swollen finger, ranging from minor injuries to underlying medical conditions. Here are some of the most common causes of a swollen finger:

Injury

Injuries are one of the most common causes of swollen fingers, like a jammed finger. They can range from minor to severe and are caused by accidents like falls, direct impacts, or crushing injuries. A finger or hand injury may lead to swelling due to inflammation as the body’s natural response to tissue damage. Swelling typically occurs soon after the injury and is accompanied by pain, tenderness, bruising, and possibly restricted movement. In severe cases, the finger may appear deformed, and there may be open wounds or bleeding.

Arthritis

Arthritis refers to inflammation of the joints and is a common cause of chronic finger swelling, especially in older adults. Rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disease, and osteoarthritis, caused by wear and tear of joint cartilage, are the two most common types of arthritis that affect fingers. Swollen fingers from arthritis are often accompanied by stiffness, pain, and reduced range of motion.

Infection

Infections in the fingers can occur due to bacteria, viruses, or fungi entering through breaks in the skin, such as cuts, punctures, or hangnails. Common locations include infections around the nail beds or a skin infection. Finger infections often present with localized swelling, redness, warmth, pain, and tenderness around the affected area. You may also develop a fever as the body responds to the infection.

When to See a Doctor for a Swollen Finger

It’s essential to pay attention to your body and seek medical attention if you experience any concerning symptoms alongside a swollen finger, especially if you suspect a sudden injury or arthritis. Here are some signs of when to see a doctor:

  • Severe Pain: Intense or persistent pain in the swollen finger, especially if pain interferes with your daily activities or sleep.
  • Significant Swelling: Severe swelling that doesn’t improve with rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE).
  • Limited Function: Significant limitations in your ability to move the swollen finger, including an inability to bend or straighten properly.
  • Visible Deformity: If the swollen finger appears deformed or misaligned or if there are any open wounds.
  • Persistent Symptoms: If the swelling persists for more than a few days despite home care measures or if it worsens over time.
  • History of Arthritis: If you have a history of arthritis or if the swelling is accompanied by other symptoms that signal arthritis (such as joint stiffness, warmth, or redness).
  • Concern for Infection: If there are signs of infection around the swollen finger, such as increasing redness, warmth, tenderness, pus drainage, or fever.

Treatment Options for a Swollen Finger

Treatment Options for a Swollen FingerWhen you visit your doctor for a swollen finger, the treatment they provide will depend on the specific cause of the swelling. Here are some examples of what you can expect with hand injury treatment and hand arthritis treatment.

Hand Injury Treatment

Treatment options for a hand injury with a swollen finger symptom depend on the type and severity of the injury. These are a few types of treatment options your Atlanta chiropractor may recommend for hand injury treatment.

  • Rest and Immobilization: Rest the injured hand and avoid activities that make the pain or swelling worse. Immobilization with a splint or brace may be recommended to stabilize the injured finger and prevent further damage.
  • Ice Therapy: Applying ice packs or cold compresses to the swollen finger can help reduce pain and inflammation. The cold sensation provides a temporary numbing sensation while also reducing blood flow to the area so the swelling can subside.
  • Compression: Gentle compression with an elastic bandage or finger splint can help reduce swelling and provide support to the injured finger.
  • Elevation: Keeping the injured hand elevated above the level of your heart can help reduce swelling by promoting drainage of excess fluid. Elevating your hand on pillows or using a sling when resting can aid in decreasing swelling and promoting recovery.
  • Pain Management: Over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen may also help alleviate pain and discomfort while addressing inflammation with the injury.
  • Physical Therapy: In some cases, your doctor may recommend stretches and exercises that can help restore strength, flexibility, and range of motion in the injured finger and hand.
  • Medical Intervention: For more serious hand injuries, such as fractures, dislocations, or tendon injuries, more invasive treatment techniques may be necessary. This may include setting the bone, performing surgery to repair damaged tissues, or immobilizing the finger with a cast or splint.

Hand Arthritis Treatment

These are a few types of treatment options your Atlanta chiropractor may recommend for hand arthritis treatment to help reduce swelling in your fingers.

  • Medications: Pain medications, such as ibuprofen or naproxen, help reduce pain and inflammation associated with arthritis. There are also medications specifically for rheumatoid arthritis that can slow down the progression of the disease and help prevent joint damage. Injections of corticosteroids directly into the affected joints can provide short-term relief from inflammation and pain.
  • Physical Therapy: A physical therapist can walk you through exercises and techniques to improve joint mobility, strength, and flexibility in the hands and fingers. Splinting or bracing can help support and stabilize the affected joints, particularly when arthritis flares up and causes increased pain or inflammation.
  • Heat and Cold Therapy: Applying warm compresses or soaking the hands in warm water can help alleviate stiffness and promote relaxation of arthritic joints. Cold therapy with ice packs or cold compresses may help reduce inflammation and numb pain in swollen fingers.

Comprehensive Care with AICA Atlanta

Whether you’re dealing with swollen fingers from chronic arthritis or are looking for a doctor to¬†heal a jammed finger, our team at AICA Orthopedics is here to help. We offer a wide range of noninvasive treatment options, including chiropractic care with an Atlanta chiropractor near you.

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