What Are the Common Causes of Swollen Fingers?

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  • Written By: Esther Ejim
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 28 October 2018
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A swollen finger could be the result of a variety of causes. Trauma and injury, inflammation, pregnancy and infection are some of the possible causes of swollen fingers. Sometimes, a swollen finger could indicate a more serious condition. Among the specific conditions that might cause a swollen finger are cellulitis, herpetic whitlow, rheumatoid arthritis and carpal tunnel syndrome.

Cellulitis is a bacterial infection that can occur on any part of the body, including the fingers. This infection is one of the most common causes of swollen fingers that might be initiated by a minor trauma, such as a bruise, through which bacteria will be introduced into the tissues underneath the skin. Cellulitis causes the fingers to become swollen and tender to the touch.

Herpetic whitlow, or finger herpes, is caused by the herpes simplex virus. This virus is highly contagious and spreads through contact with infected lesions that might appear on the thumb or other fingers. Herpetic whitlow can also cause swollen fingers. Symptoms of an infection with this virus include a swelling and reddening of the affected finger and thumb.

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that affects the immune system. A healthy immune system destroys foreign substances, such as bacteria, in the body. An autoimmune disease causes the immune system to attack its own cells, leading to stiffness, swelling and deformities in various parts of the body, including the fingers.


Pregnancy is also one of the more common causes of swollen fingers in women. This is because of a condition known as edema, which leads to water retention in pregnant women. The water retention causes swollen limbs and fingers.

Injuries such as sprains, cuts and breaks in the bones in the fingers can cause them to swell. Often, sprains might require compressions to bring the swelling down. Broken bones have to be reset and put in a splint so that they can heal properly.

Weight gain is another one of the causes of swollen fingers. Any increase in weight will generally be distributed throughout the body, leading to an increase in the size of the finger. This type of swelling will go down in proportion to any weight loss.

Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs as a result of pressure on the tendons and median nerves in the wrist. Symptoms of this condition might include some swelling and numbness in the fingers. Other symptoms include some pain and a general weakness, which can reduce the person's ability to grasp objects with the fingers. This pain and weakness might radiate to the hands and forearm.


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Post 4

My high blood pressure was the cause of my swollen hands and fingers. I didn't know that at first, and I panicked a little once I noticed that my fingers, hands, toes, and ankles were all swollen.

I hadn't gained any weight, and I wasn't pregnant. I didn't seem to have any sort of infection, and I didn't feel bad.

I scheduled an appointment with my doctor, because it really freaked me out. She put me on blood pressure medication, and once my pressure returned to normal, the swelling went away and did not come back.

Post 3

@StarJo – You may not have to give it up altogether. You could just alter your methods a bit.

My aunt loves gardening, but she also suffers from arthritis. She knows what causes swollen fingers is all the work that she used to do by hand, so she found ways around it.

She got a good pair of grass shears. She uses these to cut everything from weeds to the grass that grows around her flowers. She cuts them at ground level so that they don't grow back too quickly.

She also got a pair of compression gloves. These apply gentle pressure to her fingers and hands, and that cuts down on her pain level.

She has to hold the grass shears with both hands, but they are easy to operate. They save her so much effort and pain.

Post 2

I am in my early thirties, and I started having problems with swollen finger joints just last year. My fingers would swell and ache terribly after I did yard work.

If I spent more than just a couple of minutes yanking up weeds with my hands, they would begin to burn and have a deep ache on the inside. A little while later, they would swell so much that I could not get my wedding ring off.

I think that I am developing arthritis. It is sad to me, because I didn't think it would happen so soon in life. I love gardening, but I may be forced to give it up.

Post 1

Holding your hands down by your side for a long period of time seems to be one of the causes of swollen hands and fingers. This happens to me every time that I go roller skating.

I don't know if this is true, but I have a theory. I think that maybe since my hands are being held below the level of my heart and my blood is pumping quickly because of the exercise, it can't circulate very well through my hands. I've always heard that if you have a bleeding injury, you should hold it above the level of your heart, so this makes sense to me.

I'm always surprised when I have been skating and I bring my hand up toward my face as I take a drink of water, because I suddenly see how swollen my fingers are. I really don't feel the difference until I look at them.

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