One of the principal reasons for patients visiting an orthopedist is stiffness and lack of motion in the fingers. However, in most cases, the stiffness issues don't start suddenly. Instead, there is a gradual process of deterioration that leads to finger related problems.
There may or may not be a pain in the fingers, and it might not be related to the stiffness or lack of motion. The most common complaint or issue with the people is that they cannot perform the daily routine tasks as well as they could before. It might be because of the common symptoms of finger stiffness, including pain, lack of mobility, loss of grip, etc.
Stiff fingers can be extremely frustrating because you can't do even the most menial tasks around your house. There can be several causes of this medical condition, including:
- Stenosing Tenosynovitis
Also called trigger finger, this medical condition is one of the most common causes of stiff fingers. Usually, the tendons coast through a pulley system through the finger called a tunnel. But when you have swelling in your finger (can be due to many causes), the tendon gets blocked from entering the tunnel. It is similar to threading the needle. It is a simple process, but it won't go through the needle's eye when there is a knot in the thread. That's how when the swelling is significant enough; it might stop the tendon from entering the tunnel. The usual symptoms include pain, an occasional bend in the finger, and finger locking in a position.
- Dupuytren Contracture
Several crucial structures construct the palm of your hand that allows your hand to function smoothly. Next to the tendons and muscles are numerous nerves through which the brain transmits signals to your hand, making it functional. A layer of connective tissue between these structures keep them apart but help them work together. This tissue is called palmar fascia. It looks pretty similar to the tough inedible tissue on top of the meat, called gristle. It might not be visible to you from the skin surface, but this layer grows a scar in the Dupuytren's contracture.
It causes the fingers to flex into the palm. That is because the cords in the palm work like tethers and sometimes don't let the fingers open up all the way. So the patients seek medical help when it interferes with them doing daily chores like grabbing something, handshaking and other tasks. It doesn't cause much pain but can be irritating. The severity of this condition varies from person to person depending upon several factors, especially their medical history.
It is a medical condition that is very common with people of older age. Arthritis affects the joints of your body, including hands, knees, hips, ankles, etc. It causes pain, stiffness, swelling and bruising, irritation, etc. People often term the pain in their joints as arthritis. But there are five distinct types of this medical condition:
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
RA is an autoimmune medical condition in which your body's natural defence system attacks the healthy cells of your joints. It usually originates around the small joints in your body, including fingers, wrists, elbows, etc. Also, both hands get affected simultaneously.
The most common type of arthritis is osteoarthritis. It is also called the wear-and-tear condition because the cartilages in this condition wear out naturally with age, injury or overdoing certain activities. In the case of osteoarthritis, the most frequently affected joints are the wrist, the joint closest to the fingertip and the middle of the finger.
- Psoriatic Arthritis
Psoriatic Arthritis or PsA is also an autoimmune medical condition, that along with stiff fingers, causes inflamed and scaly skin, swelling and joint pain.
- Inoperative hands and fingers
It often happens that you would require a cast after an injury resulting in a fracture. Braces, splints and casts can cause your fingers to be rendered inoperative. In addition, the immobilisation can result in the tissues in your fingers losing flexibility over time. THat's why after taking the cast off, you will feel like you can't perform even the most menial tasks around the house. It is one of the examples of finger stiffness without a medical condition or injury.
Several injuries may lead to finger stiffness. You may have swelling and tears due to jammed fingers and finger joint dislocations. Your fingers might lose flexibility temporarily or permanently due to these injuries, resulting in limited mobility of the fingers and palm. When you have a fracture or certain other bone-related injuries, it usually results in breakage, causing bleeding and swelling. The sharp edges of broken bones also scar and sometimes tear the tendons. After having surgery or wearing a cast or brace, the movement of the finger gets limited, affecting the joints made by those bones. If the injury has affected the flexor or extensor tendons, there is a good chance that you will lose the motion in your fingers.
People with diabetes eventually start experiencing a lack of motion or stiffness in their fingers. That is because of a substance accumulated throughout the body due to increased blood sugar, causing stiffness in the hands.
- Complex Regional Pain Syndrome
In this medical condition, the fingers and hands experience stiffness and lack of motion, along with pain and swelling. The stiffness in the fingers caused by the CRPS can be especially hard to treat.
These are just a few causes of stiffness in the fingers. You will be able to know the root cause only after a thorough consultation with a doctor for a diagnosis.
Here are a few steps (not in the specific order) taken by the doctor to diagnose the root cause and determine a proper treatment for the stiffness in the finger:
- Medical History: Firstly, the doctor might ask you for your medical history. They will ask you about the extent of stiffness and pain in the joints, along with the duration and when it started.
- Check-up: Then, they will perform a medical check-up on your hand to determine your fingers' mobility and range of motion.
- Imaging Tests: Imaging tests like X-Ray and Magnetic Resonance Imaging helps the doctor determine the internal issues with the bones and muscles of your fingers.
These tests and check-ups will also help the doctor determine if the stiffness is due to more severe medical conditions like Psoriatic Arthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis.
The treatment for the stiffness in your fingers depends on the medical condition causing the stiffness, such as arthritis, diabetes among others. Homeopathy is an alternative medical science that helps treat a medical condition with the help of natural remedies, including most of the causes of stiffness in the fingers. Regarding finger stiffness, homeopathic remedies can also provide you with relief from pain and swelling in your hands.
Homeopathic medications use the body's defences to counter the condition and relieve the symptoms, including pain and stiffness in the thumbs, fingers, and palm of your hand. If you are looking to find out more about the stiffness in your fingers or want an effective treatment for it, the best way to go forward would be to consult with a doctor.