Tanya Coats Occupational Therapy

Everything You Should Know About Finger Arthritis

Movement and mobility are important in everyday life. Joints play a pivotal role in maintaining a person’s balance and range of motion. Like any other part of the body, the joints may suffer from the “wear and tear” of everyday use. 

One of the most common areas prone to joint pain is the fingers. They are used in almost everything that you do – from cooking, painting, writing, and typing, among others. 

If you develop finger arthritis, you may need to see a hand therapist, but first, here are some facts about the condition and ways to alleviate the pain. 

What is Finger Arthritis?

The fingers in your hands and fingers are the most delicate in the body. Most of the time, they work together to help with daily activities. When the fingers don’t work the way you want them to, everyday tasks become hard and painful. 

In the United States alone, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that between 2013 and 2015, about 54.4 million adults had arthritis annually. In 2015, an estimated 15 million adults reported severe joint pain due to arthritis. 

Types of Finger Arthritis 

There are three major types of arthritis which can affect the fingers:


Osteoarthritis is also known as the “wear-and-tear” arthritis. It is the most common cause of finger arthritis. In this type of arthritis, the cartilage in the joint wears away, exposing the bones of the joints. It usually affects the knuckles of the fingertip and mid-finger. 


Another type of arthritis that affects the fingers is gout. It occurs when the body’s uric acid increases and uric crystals are deposited in various joints of the body. While the big toe is the most commonly affected part of the body, it can also affect the finger joints. 

Rheumatoid Arthritis

In rheumatoid arthritis, the body’s immune system attacks the joints of the body. Also known as a ‘systemic autoimmune condition’, it can cause inflammation and swelling in the affected joints. In this type of arthritis, the finger joints are commonly affected. 

Signs and Symptoms

Just like other types of arthritis, finger arthritis has a multitude of signs and symptoms. These include:

  • Hand and finger pain
  • Hand and finger swelling and stiffness
  • Fingers and hands are warm to touch
  • Misshapen finger joints
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms, including tingling and numbness of the hands
  • Fatigue

What Causes Finger Arthritis?

Several risk factors may increase the likelihood of developing finger arthritis. First, one of the main causes of finger arthritis is the swelling that occurs when cartilage wears away. As a result, the joint ends rub together, causing immense pain and swelling. 

The other cause is gout, where uric crystals due to high uric acid levels in the blood deposit around the joints of the body. 

Treating Finger Arthritis

When you visit an occupational therapist, the main goal of treatment is to lessen inflammation and pain. When the pain and swelling go away, you will then be able to resume your activities.

If the joint is severely damaged, surgery may be recommended. However, before resorting to surgery, there are several conservative treatment options. These include medications, rest and exercise, splints and special arthritis aids, eating foods to stem inflammation, physical therapy sessions, regular medical check-ups, as well as avoiding foods that can trigger inflammation. 

With regard to hand exercises, these can help strengthen the muscles that support the hand joints. Here are a couple example exercises:

  • Make a fist. 
  • Bend each finger one at a time.
  • Bend the thumb. 
  • Make an “O” with the fingers.
  • Do the finger lift. 

All these exercises should be done for ten sets each. 

Are you experiencing finger arthritis? It is important to consult with your healthcare provider to know the treatment regimen they will offer you. Knowing the problem and fixing it NOW can prevent more damage in the future. 

Article Reference: Hands On Therapy Services

If you need help with this, please feel free to contact me or book an appointment online

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