We use our fingers almost constantly and even a slight swelling or pain can cause a lot of discomfort, or worse, make it hard to use the swollen finger at all.
Fingers swell for a lot of reasons and many of them are harmless. Typically, it is the result of inflammation or fluid buildup.
This can be due to an insect bite, an injury like a sprained or jammed finger, a rash, fluid retention, an infection, exposure to extreme temperature, high salt intake or hormonal changes in the body.
It can also be a result of an underlying health problem, such as bursitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, cellulitis, ganglion cyst, fungal infection around the nail, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and septic arthritis, to name a few.
Along with swelling, there may be other symptoms, such as redness, bruising, fatigue, pain, lumps along the finger, numbness or tingling sensations from nerve compression, reduced range of motion, stiffness and swollen joints.
Mild cases of finger swelling heal with time. To reduce swelling and pain faster, you can try some home remedies.
However, if the swelling is accompanied by severe pain, a weak grip or a fever, consult your doctor immediately as it can be due to severe trauma or a serious underlying problem.
Here are the top 10 ways to treat swollen fingers.
1. Contrast Hydrotherapy
Both cold and warm water treatments, popularly known as hydrotherapy, can help with finger swelling. Warm water helps improve circulation and cold water plays a key role in reducing swelling and inflammation.
- Fill 2 small bowls– one with cold water and the other with warm water.
- First, soak the affected finger in warm water for 3 to 4 minutes.
- Then, put the finger in the cold water for 1 minute.
- Continue alternating steps 2 and 3 for 15 to 20 minutes.
- Repeat the treatment 3 or 4 times daily until you get relief.
2. Elevate the Affected Fingers
Poor circulation is one of the key reasons behind swelling in any part of the body, including the fingers.
To reduce swelling due to poor circulation, elevate your hands and fingers above your chest level. This will help improve blood circulation and provide relief from discomforts like swelling, inflammation and pain.
Keep the swollen fingers elevated above your chest level. You can sit on a sofa, put a few pillows on its arm rest and rest your hand on it.
To keep the fingers elevated while sleeping, put a few pillows under your hands.
Keep your hands and fingers elevated for 30 minutes a few times a day.
3. Warm Oil Massage
A gentle warm oil massage can also be very helpful in reducing swelling.
Massage relaxes sore muscles, stimulates the muscles and improves blood circulation to the affected area. As a bonus, massage encourages drainage of excess fluid, which is a leading cause of swelling.
- Warm some mustard oil or olive oil in the microwave.
- Dab some of the warm oil on the affected finger.
- Using the thumb and forefinger of one hand, gently massage the swollen finger on the opposite hand, starting at the tip of the finger and moving toward your heart.
- Massage for 5 minutes at a time.
- Do this several times a day.
Note: If massaging causes more pain, stop doing it and consult a doctor.
4. Exercise the Fingers
If your fingers are swollen due to poor circulation, strain or fluid retention, try exercising the fingers to reduce swelling.
Exercise causes more blood flow to the area, which stimulates the pressure to reduce fluid retention. Exercise will also reduce strain in the muscles around the affected area.
Flexing your fingers is one of the best exercises to try.
- Remove any rings before exercising your fingers.
- Close your fingers into a fist and hold it for 1 minute.
- Slowly open the fist and stretch out your fingers.
- Repeat the cycle several times.
- Do this exercise many times a day.
You can also try hand squeezes with a tennis ball or a rubber stress ball.
To help stop swelling, compress the swollen fingers as soon as possible.
Compressing the wrist and hand helps prevent fluid from accumulating in the fingers. This in turn stops swelling as well as pain in your fingers.
- To apply compression, you can use ace wrap or elastic bandage from the market.
- Wrap the bandage using even pressure around your wrist and try to cover your palm, too.
- Keep the bandage on during the day until the swelling reduces.
- Remove the bandage before you go to sleep.
Note: Do not wrap the bandage too tightly or it can cut off the circulation to your fingers.
You can also try special fingerless compression gloves that are readily available in the market.
Turmeric contains the active ingredient curcumin, which offers antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It helps with conditions like arthritis, muscle sprains and other injuries that cause swelling in fingers.
A 2012 study published in Therapeutic Advances in Musculoskeletal Disease demonstrated the positive result of turmeric in pain management and mobility.
- Mix ½ teaspoon of turmeric powder with a little olive oil to make a paste.
- Apply it over the affected finger.
- Allow it to dry for some time, then rinse it off with lukewarm water.
- Repeat twice daily to get rid of pain and swelling.
You can opt to take curcumin supplements, but only after consulting your doctor.