There are many causes of finger pain. You can often ease the pain yourself. But contact your GP if the pain does not improve.

How you can ease finger pain

If you see your GP about pain in your finger, they'll usually suggest you try these things:

Do

  • rest your finger when you can

  • put an ice pack (or a bag of frozen peas) in a towel and place it on your finger for up to 20 minutes every 2 to 3 hours

  • take paracetamol to ease the pain

  • stop or cut down activities that are causing the pain – for example, typing, using vibrating tools for work, or playing an instrument

  • remove any jewellery on the painful finger

  • strap the painful finger to another finger next to it – put a small piece of cotton wool or gauze between the 2 fingers and use tape to loosely strap them together

  • think about using gadgets or tools to make difficult or painful tasks easier – for example, to open jars or chop vegetables

Don't

  • do not use ibuprofen in the first 48 hours after an injury

  • do not use heat packs or have hot baths for the first 2 to 3 days after an injury

  • do not lift heavy objects or grip anything too tightly

You can ask a pharmacist about:

  • the best painkiller to take
  • splints to support your finger and ease pain – flexible rubber splints are available if you still need to use your finger
  • treatments for common skin problems
  • if you need to see a GP

Non-urgent advice: Contact your GP if:

  • the pain is severe or stopping you doing normal activities
  • the pain is getting worse or keeps coming back
  • the pain has not improved after treating it at home for 2 weeks
  • you have any tingling or loss of sensation in your hand
  • you have diabetes – hand problems can be more serious if you have diabetes

Immediate action required: Go to your local injury unit or nearest ED if you:

  • have severe pain
  • feel faint, dizzy or sick from the pain
  • heard a snap, grinding or popping noise at the time of the injury
  • are not able to move your finger or hold things
  • have a finger that's changed shape or colour, such as blue or white

These might be signs of a broken finger.

Common causes of finger pain

Finger pain is often caused by bruising or injuring your finger.

Your symptoms might also give you an idea of what's causing the pain in your finger.

Common causes of finger pain

Symptoms Possible cause
Symptoms Pain, swelling and bruising, difficult to move finger or grip anything Possible cause sprained finger
Symptoms Pain, swelling and stiffness at the base of your finger that lasts a long time, it may be hard to move your finger. There may be a lump Possible cause tendonitis (de Quervain's disease) or arthritis
Symptoms Pain, swelling, you cannot straighten the end of your finger, often happens after catching your finger on something Possible cause mallet finger
Symptoms Pain or tenderness in your palm at the base of your finger, stiffness, clicking when you move your finger Possible cause trigger finger
Symptoms Pain during cold weather or stress, numbness or pins and needles, sometimes the skin changes colour Possible cause Raynaud's
Symptoms Sudden, sharp pain, swelling, a popping or snapping sound during the injury Possible cause broken finger

Do not worry if you're not sure what the problem is. Follow the advice on this page and see your GP if the pain does not get better in 2 weeks.


Content supplied by the NHS and adapted for Ireland by the HSE

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This project has received funding from the Government of Ireland’s Sláintecare Integration Fund 2019 under Grant Agreement Number 123.

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