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What are the Different Causes of Index Finger Pain?

By T. Broderick
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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There are many causes of index finger pain. Several forms of physical trauma can either break one of the bones within the index finger or cause damage to either the connective tissue or the muscles. Carpel tunnel syndrome is a form of neuropathy that causes pain in the index finger along with other symptoms. Pain that does not go away after a short amount of time requires a trip to a medical professional for a diagnosis and proper treatment.

A fractured or broken bone within the index finger will cause some form of pain or discomfort. Leading away from the palm, the three bones in the index finger are the proximal, middle and distal phalanx. In any one of these three bones, some parts of the bone are still held together after an incomplete fracture. A complete fracture indicates separation of the bone into two or more pieces. Index finger pain is always more intense after a complete fracture.

Besides causing damage to the bones, physical trauma can also result in damage and pain to the index finger's connective tissue or muscles. As the muscles that control the finger's movement lead into the palm, trauma to the palm may also decrease index finger mobility and can cause pain when a person tries to flex his or her hand. Nerves within the hand and index finger are also regularly affected by trauma. For example, accidents that result in deep gashes along the palm or index finger can damage nerves. Even after treatment, pain is a common side effect as nerves heal.

Carpel tunnel syndrome is a form a neuropathy where index finger pain is one of many symptoms. The carpel tunnel is a narrow area of the wrist that connects nerves from the forearm into those of the palm and fingers. Caused by repetitive motions, such as prolonged keyboard use, symptoms include finger pain, hand numbness during sleep, loss of grip strength and pain in the wrists. Though these symptoms might not appear simultaneously, a hallmark of the disorder is that symptoms worsen over time.

Resolving index finger pain begins by consulting a medical professional. X-rays can easily detect bone fractures, and a patient will typically be instructed to wear a finger splint for a few weeks until a follow-up visit determines that the bone has healed. Trauma that causes damage to muscles and/or nerves may require surgery and a period of physical therapy. Physical therapy may also apply to patients suffering from carpel tunnel syndrome; special exercises along with wearing specialized wrist braces at night relieve symptoms in most patients.

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Discussion Comments
By serenesurface — On Aug 14, 2013

When I use a mouse all day, I get index finger numbness and pain! I stopped using a mouse and the pain disappeared. Isn't that crazy? I guess keeping the fingers in the same position for hours isn't good.

By burcinc — On Aug 13, 2013

@turkay1-- You should probably see a doctor just in case. It's probably not very serious, but it might be sprained. You might need a finger splint. You should probably also apply ice and avoid moving your finger too much.

It's always a good idea to get an x-ray to check if anything is out of the ordinary. I had a finger injury like you years ago and didn't take it seriously. My finger healed, but I developed arthritis at the exact spot that's giving me chronic finger joint pain now.

I'm not saying that's what will happen to you, but it's best to get checked out.

By candyquilt — On Aug 13, 2013

I hurt my index finger while playing volleyball at school today. The ball hit my index finger and sort of pushed it inward. It's been hurting ever since. I don't think it's broken because it's not swollen.

What should I do? Do I have to see a doctor?

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