Swollen finger joints can be caused by a variety of diseases. From osteoarthritis to gout, the range of conditions behind swelling is wide. Swollen joints are a symptom, not a disease, and here we are going to discuss what can manifest itself in the form of joint swelling, and what treatment is usually offered.
Swollen finger joints should be differentiated from swollen fingers. If it is the fingers that swell, the underlying cause is likely to be different from the ones leading to swollen joints. For example, swollen fingers (when the whole finger is affected) can be caused by heat or high salt intake, so it is quite a normal reaction. (Of course, there are disease-related finger swelling cases too.)
Finger joint swelling causes
Besides swelling, there can be pain in the joint; you can feel that the finger is stiff and difficult to move. The joint itself can become warmer than usual.
The list of possible causes includes:
- Osteoarthritis. This kind of arthritis is the result of damaging the cartilage at the end of the bone in the finger. It is a very common type of the disease, and it develops with age or in case of injuring a limb. OA is more likely to affect knees, feet, and other joints that are used for bearing weight. Most patients do not experience symptoms, except for feeling pain in the swollen joint.
- Rheumatoid arthritis. This one is inflammatory, and it can strike regardless of age. RA symptoms are more distressing than those of OA, because they include not only pain and swelling, but also stiffness; the severity of symptoms can prevent the patient from moving freely. RA’s primary targets are hands, knees and feet, but one can develop it in any joint.
- Gout. Arthritis stemming from gout is a thing that brings intense pain felt in the affected joint, redness and swelling. In most cases, there is only one joint affected. The pain characteristic of it is severe; it is caused by uric acid deposits in the joint.
- Infectious arthritis. Fungal/viral/bacterial infections can result in infectious arthritis. The most common invaders are Staphylococcus aureus and Neisseria gonorrhoeae. This type of arthritis is a consequence of infection that originally developed in the body. It is usually accompanied by fever and pain.
- Joint injury. Injured joints can swell and become stiff. Bursitis, strains, tendonitis, etc. can lead to joint swelling. Note that injured joints are prone to infectious arthritis.
Swollen joint treatment
The choice of treatment strategy depends on what disease is behind swollen joints.
One of the ways to treat it is taking medications. You can be prescribed NSAIDS, which are effective at treating injuries or osteoarthritis. NSAIDs are often accompanied by heat or ice applications, which help alleviate the symptom.
Steroids, which are sometimes prescribed to manage pain associated with swollen joints, are usually taken only for a short period of time. Steroids are either taken orally or injected in the joint. As an injection, steroids can bring you relief fast, but the effect is not long-lasting. Sometimes injecting is carried out with prior fluid removal.
Infectious arthritis treatment implies taking antibiotics. If there is infected fluid, it is removed to stop the infection.
For treatment of inflammation-related kinds of arthritis, DMARDs can also be used. These medications block inflammation-inducing proteins and inhibit tumor necrosis factors.
If swollen joints are caused by gout, colchicine is prescribed. It helps reduce inflammation, and pain abates. NSAIDs can also be used; should they prove to be ineffective, stronger pain-relieving medications are used instead.