Swollen fingers: why do our fingers swell, what disease does it mean?

Swollen fingers: why do our fingers swell, what disease does it mean?
Photo source: Getty images

Swelling of the toes can be caused by overexertion, an accident, prolonged standing in the case of swollen toes, but also prolonged walking. In pregnancy, swelling is normal. But if other symptoms are associated, it is necessary to think about pre-eclampsia. Swelling typically occurs with a disease called gout, but also with allergies or other diseases.

Swollen fingers occur from a variety of causes. Sometimes they are minor, sometimes a thorough examination is necessary and the cause is revealed.

Swelling = edema.

Our fingers and toes can swell as a result of increased strain or overload. If the fingers are swollen, it is an unpleasant phenomenon. Constant handling can worsen the difficulty and, in addition to swelling, pain is also associated.

Swelling of the toes can also occur as a result of prolonged standing or walking or other exertion.

During pregnancy, mild swelling of both upper and lower toes is quite common.

The fingers may be swollen, but they may also be painful as a result of an accident. In the case of bone fractures, it is natural for the swelling to move from the fracture site to a lower location, i.e. to the fingers, due to gravity.

Sometimes the swelling occurs alone, but it may also have accompanying difficulties.

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Painful hands, left hand holding the right hand, pain in the thumb joint area
Pain in the fingers, joints after stress, injury or due to illness. Photo source: Getty Images

Swollen fingers as a symptom of disease

Swelling of the fingers can be a symptom of carpal tunnel syndrome. But it can also be a symptom of other diseases of vascular, nervous, infectious or other kinds.

Swollen fingers and toes occur when the liver or kidneys are not working properly. There is a lower level of proteins in the blood that keep fluids in the blood.

Liver problems can also arise in chronic hepatitis, in cirrhosis, and also in liver cancer. When the liver function is reduced or impaired. In the case of the kidneys, it can be their failure, also due to various inflammatory causes, as a result of the toxic action of various substances, such as drugs as well.

Often, the swelling is also caused by impaired lymphatic drainage from the affected area. Lymph accumulates in the interstitial space and causes swelling.

Arthritis is also manifested by swelling of the joints and sometimes of the fingers. In particular, swelling of the small joints that are located on the fingers, usually on the hands. Arthritis itself can be both infectious and non-infectious. It is an inflammatory disease affecting both smaller and larger joints.

two hands, arthritis, rheumatism, painful and swollen joints of the fingers
A common cause is arthritis. Source photo: Getty Images

It usually manifests itself in particular:

  • swollen joints
  • joint stiffness
  • joint pain

Rheumatoid arthritis is the most common disease affecting the small joints of the hand, with the typical morning stiffness of the joints. In addition to morning stiffness, stiffness occurs after prolonged periods of inactivity. The condition requires inflammation of at least three joints.

The joints of the fingers, wrists, elbow, knees, ankles and also the toes are most commonly affected. In addition to the symptoms in the joints, there may be an increase in body temperature, weakness. There are also rheumatic subcutaneous nodules, inflammation of the heart capsules, enlargement of the lymph nodes, spleen, inflammation of blood vessels, anaemia, and a reduced white blood cell count.

Swelling of the fingers in this case is described as sausage type (technically dactylitis). Swelling of the finger resembles sausages and sausages.

Some rheumatic diseases with the presence of dactylitis:

Swollen finger joints are typical in gout disease

A typical disease in which the fingers and toes swell is gout. Gout is a disease characterized by the deposition of uric acid crystals in the joints. It is actually a form of arthritis. Professionally, the disease is referred to as arthritis uratica.

In this disease there are symptoms such as:

  • intense pain
  • swelling
  • limitation of joint mobility
  • redness of the joint area

Lyme disease also causes various swellings of the joints on the feet or hands. Sometimes the larger joints such as the shoulders, knees or elbows are swollen, but smaller joints can also swell, right on the fingers.

Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs in the hands. It is a narrow slit in the wrist area of the hand. The tendons of the finger and thumb flexors lead through this slit into the palm. It also carries the median nerve, which innervates the hand and is responsible for sensation. It takes care of both gross and fine motor movements in the hand.

Carpal tunnel syndrome is caused by the compression of this nerve. It occurs after overuse, injury or when the tendons in this area swell, causing pain. Often the fingers are swollen. However, this swelling is not visible as in a classic swelling, rather the affected person just has the feeling of swollen fingers.

Swollen lower legs, shins, ankles, swollen toes
Swelling of the tibia, ankles and toes for various diseases. Photo source: Getty Images

This is a minor swelling, the intensity of which can fluctuate during the course of the carpal tunnel syndrome problem. Thus, sometimes the swelling is less, sometimes more.

Other causes of swelling, not only of the fingers, include:

  • heart disease
  • disorders of the thyroid gland and the endocrine system in general
  • inflammation of blood vessels
  • thrombosis
  • infectious diseases
  • malnutrition, eating disorders
  • reduced protein levels in the body
  • allergic reaction
  • skin diseases
  • post-operative condition
  • bone inflammation
  • excess fluid
  • excess sodium in the diet
  • dehydration

Swollen fingers in pregnancy

It's common to experience swelling during pregnancy, especially during the last few weeks. Swelling is mostly in the lower extremities, especially in the feet, toes and ankles. The fingers may also swell during the day, especially on warm days.

The swellings become more pronounced during the day and should subside by morning. There is no danger unless other problems such as high blood pressure are added to the swellings. If the swellings are pronounced, preeclampsia should be thought of.

Video on the causes of swelling

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