If you are experiencing index finger pain, it is important to start the proper treatment. There are many ways to treat and alleviate this pain from home. However, if the pain is severe or if you suspect the finger is broken, seek the care of a doctor or other medical professional.
First, determine why the finger is in pain. The cause will determine the right kind of treatment. If the finger was injured, it will need to be treated differently from a finger that is sore from arthritis. Old injuries can also flare up, even months after an injury has healed. Once you know the cause, you can begin treatment.
Fingers Hurt by Trauma
If there is index finger pain from trauma, you need to first get the swelling down. Swelling is a natural process your body goes through in an attempt to heal itself. Cells and fluid gather in one area, which is why the finger begins to swell. However, this can potentially cause more harm than good. Swelling can prevent blood from flowing to the area, which can cause rupturing.
To stop the swelling, you need to do two things. First, you need to apply ice to the injury. Be sure to wrap the ice or cold pack in some cloth. Never apply ice directly to the skin, since this can cause additional injuries. It can also help to gently massage the sore area while you are icing. Keep the ice on for 10-15 minutes, but no more. The other thing you need to do is to keep your index finger elevated. This will help excess fluid drain, which will again reduce swelling.
If ice is not available, you can also perform a cold water immersion. Simply fill a cup with cold water and submerge the finger in the water. This is a great method for the index finger because the cold water will surround it, as opposed to only getting to the sides which is a problem when using ice.
Once the swelling has gone down, access the damage. If the finger appears sprained, it will need to be splinted. The severity of the sprain will determine the kind of splint needed. If the sprain is painful, but not severe, then a buddy splint can be used. A buddy splint is the taping of the index finger to the middle finger. The middle finger thus acts as a “buddy” by supporting the injured finger. Apply one strip of tape to the top of the fingers, and another to the bottom. You should still be able to move both fingers. If the sprain is severe, then an aluminum splint should be used. The splint is adjustable, and it will keep the finger immobilized. These splints can be found in most drug stores.
As the swelling continues to diminish, you can start some basic range of motion exercises to regain strength and motion. Find a tennis ball or stress ball and gently squeeze the ball in your hand. Hold the squeeze for a moment, and then slowly relax. Start off gently, there should not be too much pain. Your ligaments need time to heal, and rushing the process can cause more damage. This squeezing exercise can be performed ten times about every hour.
Conditions such as arthritis, old injuries, and overuse can also cause pain and discomfort. These are treated differently than fingers injured from trauma. There can still be some swelling, but since this is often chronic, heat can be used instead of ice. Hot water bottles, hand warmers, and warm massage oils can be used to alleviate pain. Creams and ointments that contain Capsaicin provide a warming sensation that reduces pain and swelling. Massage the joint while applying the heat. This will help get the blood flowing, which encourages healing.
Be preventative if possible. If there is a situation that will potentially cause soreness in your finger, use creams or other methods of heat ahead of time. Rub the finger before, after, and during the event or action to help reduce pain.
Index finger pain is a serious condition that can affect your life in many ways. It is important to properly treat this pain. Injuries like sprains can be treated at home with ice and possible splinting. Once the injury begins to heal, simple exercises can help get strength and motion back. A finger that is sore from a chronic condition can be treated with heat. Get the right treatment for your painful index finger.