There are many causes of index finger pain. Several forms of physical trauma can either break one of the bones within the index finger or cause damage to either the connective tissue or the muscles. Carpel tunnel syndrome is a form of neuropathy that causes pain in the index finger along with other symptoms. Pain that does not go away after a short amount of time requires a trip to a medical professional for a diagnosis and proper treatment.
A fractured or broken bone within the index finger will cause some form of pain or discomfort. Leading away from the palm, the three bones in the index finger are the proximal, middle and distal phalanx. In any one of these three bones, some parts of the bone are still held together after an incomplete fracture. A complete fracture indicates separation of the bone into two or more pieces. Index finger pain is always more intense after a complete fracture.
Besides causing damage to the bones, physical trauma can also result in damage and pain to the index finger's connective tissue or muscles. As the muscles that control the finger's movement lead into the palm, trauma to the palm may also decrease index finger mobility and can cause pain when a person tries to flex his or her hand. Nerves within the hand and index finger are also regularly affected by trauma. For example, accidents that result in deep gashes along the palm or index finger can damage nerves. Even after treatment, pain is a common side effect as nerves heal.
Carpel tunnel syndrome is a form a neuropathy where index finger pain is one of many symptoms. The carpel tunnel is a narrow area of the wrist that connects nerves from the forearm into those of the palm and fingers. Caused by repetitive motions, such as prolonged keyboard use, symptoms include finger pain, hand numbness during sleep, loss of grip strength and pain in the wrists. Though these symptoms might not appear simultaneously, a hallmark of the disorder is that symptoms worsen over time.
Resolving index finger pain begins by consulting a medical professional. X-rays can easily detect bone fractures, and a patient will typically be instructed to wear a finger splint for a few weeks until a follow-up visit determines that the bone has healed. Trauma that causes damage to muscles and/or nerves may require surgery and a period of physical therapy. Physical therapy may also apply to patients suffering from carpel tunnel syndrome; special exercises along with wearing specialized wrist braces at night relieve symptoms in most patients.