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Causes and Treatment of Swollen Fingers and Hands

Updated on January 19, 2015

Why are my fingers swollen?

Swollen hands and fingers could be due to a number of reasons, but the most common reason is due to fluid retention in the affected part. It may be associated with joint swelling and swollen legs and may be present on one side or even on both sides. Sometimes, it may be due to trauma, but the actual cause is difficult to pinpoint. Identifying the probable causes and using some of the home remedies may help in alleviating the problem to some extent.


Common causes of swollen hands and fingers

  • Since the hands as well as the fingers are the most exploited parts of our body, it may be prone to injuries due to overuse.
  • During pregnancy, swollen hands and fingers are a common sight. This is due to increased water retention in the body. This is something that may also be noticed in women with premenstrual syndrome.
  • In elderly citizens, swelling may be noticed in the hands and legs as well. When there is water buildup in the tissues, it leads to swelling.
  • Sometimes, even morning walkers report swollen hands and fingers. This happens during the beginning of their exercise regime, but it subsides during the day. It could be due to a condition called idiopathic edema. The exact reason behind the fluid buildup in this situation is unknown.
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome is another major cause for swelling in the arms.

Swollen hand and fingers

Less common but more serious causes of swollen hands and fingers

If there are underlying causes such as liver or kidney disease, this may also lead to swollen hands and fingers.This may also cause swelling in the other parts as well. Most of these major organs take care of the filtration process in the body and help in eliminating toxic wastes from our body. If these organs begin malfunctioning, it may lead to water retention in some body parts.

The other underlying causes could be thyroid malfunction, heart ailments, blood disorders, arthritis, or infections. However, if the problems are serious in nature, the swelling may also be associated with other symptoms that may be quite prominent.

Doing simple hand exercises and stretches may be helpful in some cases, but if the condition keeps persisting, it is important to seek medical intervention and rule out other possibilities as well.

Medical conditions that cause numbness in fingers

Medical conditions that cause numbness in fingers are:

  • carpal tunnel syndrome
  • diabetes
  • migraines
  • multiple sclerosis
  • seizure
  • stroke
  • transient ischemic attack (TIA)
  • underactive thyroid
  • Reynaud’s phenomenon

Sometimes you may experience numbness in your fingers rather than swelling

Causes of Numbness in Fingers

Numbness and tingling sensations occur anywhere in the body, but are often felt in the fingers.

Remaining in the same position for an extended period of time can cause numbness in the fingers. Other factors such as injuring a nerve, pressure on spinal nerves or poor circulation will also cause numbness. Nutritional imbalances like irregular levels B12, calcium, potassium, sodium or vitamin deficiencies easily lead to numb fingers. Exposure to radiation, toxic levels of lead, abuse of alcohol or tobacco and certain medications may also cause numbness in fingers.

Medical treatment for numbness in fingers

The basic cause of numbness or tingling in the fingers should be identified and treated by a doctor. Treating any underlying condition may reverse numbness or prevent it from becoming worse. For example, certain exercises may be beneficial for someone with carpal tunnel syndrome.

Due to decreased sensation, numb fingers are prone to accidental injury, regardless of the cause. Numb fingers need to be protected from cuts, bumps, bruises, burns or other injuries.

Contact 911 or go to the emergency room if you notice that numbness occurs shortly after an injury to the head, neck or back. Other symptoms that require immediate medical attention are weakness, paralysis, loss of bladder or bowl control, loss of muscle control, confusion, loss of consciousness, slurred speech, changes in vision, weakness or trouble walking.

Numbness or tingling in the fingers without cause may require an appointment with a doctor. Other symptoms that often accompany numbness in fingers are rashes, dizziness, muscle spasms, frequent urination or pain in the neck, pain in the arms, pain in the fingers.

Medical tests that determine the causes of numbness include blood tests, imaging technology (CT scan or MRI) or x-ray. An electromyography and nerve conduction study measures how the muscles respond to nerve stimulation. A lumbar puncture will rule out disorders of the central nervous system, while an ultrasound of blood vessels in the neck determines the risk of TIA or stroke. Vascular ultrasound and a cold stimulation test will confirm or rule out Reynaud’s phenomenon.

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