Medications, medical conditions and trauma can all contribute to knuckle swelling. Certain antibiotics, antihypertensive medications and those prescribed for the treatment of cardiac dysrhythmias may produce edema, causing swollen hands and joints. Numerous medical conditions might cause knuckle swelling, including arthritis, gout, heart or kidney disease and infection. Blunt force trauma, of any kind, to the hand may also produce pain and swelling.
Fluid retention caused by various medications may appear as joint or knuckle swelling, and individuals having an adverse reaction to antibiotics may also develop aching joints or swollen knuckles. In addition to sensitivity reactions, persons taking certain antihypertensive or dysrhythmia medications may experience weight gain and generalized edema, including knuckle swelling, because of alterations in heart rhythm and vascular circulation.
Certain preexisting medical conditions typically contribute to the adverse reactions and effects of medications. In addition to possible side effects, drugs might stress organs in individuals having kidney or liver disease. In this instance, extra body fluid accumulates and prevents the body from processing or eliminating medications, which generally exacerbates symptoms.
Swollen joints are one of a variety of symptoms produced by of dozens of medical conditions. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that causes the body’s immune system to attack and harm otherwise healthy tissue. Knuckle swelling may occur when the synovial fluid between the joints becomes inflamed. The malady eventually affects the joints and results in bone deformity.
The ailment known as gout results when the blood contains abnormally high levels of uric acid. The accumulating acid often develops into crystals that make their way into connective tissue and joint spaces, causing inflammation, swelling and pain. Advanced cases may produce knuckle swelling. Pseudogout exhibits similar symptoms although the crystals associated with this disorder develop because of excessive calcium pyrophosphate levels.
Knuckle swelling may occur when blood or lymphatic vessels are obstructed due to severe injury or infection. In the presence of extreme trauma, the vessels are damaged directly, or the swelling of surrounding tissues impedes circulation. Localized or systemic infections produce an immune system response, which causes an influx of blood along with pathogen fighting chemicals and white blood cells. During the process of fighting the infection, tissues become reddened, swollen and tender.
Contrary to one popular opinion, knuckle cracking is a relatively harmless action. One of the components of the lubricating synovial fluid is nitrogen gas. Negative pressure forms between the joints when the space expands and may result in the formation of a gas bubble. The popping sound occurs as this gas bubble ruptures. This does not, however, cause the knuckles to swell.