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Finger pain

There are many causes of finger pain. You can often ease the pain yourself. But see a GP if the pain does not improve.

How you can ease finger pain yourself

If you see a GP about pain in your finger, they'll usually suggest you try these things:

Do

  • rest your finger when you can

  • put an ice pack (or a bag of frozen peas) in a towel and place it on your finger for up to 20 minutes every 2 to 3 hours

  • take paracetamol to ease the pain

  • stop or cut down activities that are causing the pain – for example, typing, using vibrating tools for work, or playing an instrument

  • remove any jewellery on the painful finger

  • strap the painful finger to another finger next to it – put a small piece of cotton wool or gauze between the 2 fingers and use tape to loosely strap them together

  • think about using gadgets or tools to make difficult or painful tasks easier – for example, to open jars or chop vegetables

Don’t

  • do not use ibuprofen in the first 48 hours after an injury

  • do not use heat packs or have hot baths for the first 2 to 3 days after an injury

  • do not lift heavy objects or grip anything too tightly

  • do not stop using your finger completely – after a few days, do gentle hands and finger exercises to help ease any stiffness

A pharmacist can help with finger pain

You can ask a pharmacist about:

  • the best painkiller to take
  • splints to support your finger and ease pain – flexible rubber splints are available if you still need to use your finger
  • if you need to see a GP

Non-urgent advice: See a GP if:

  • pain in your finger is stopping you doing normal activities
  • the pain is getting worse or keeps coming back
  • the pain has not improved after treating it at home for 2 weeks
  • you've noticed a tingling in your hand or your hand is starting to feel numb
  • you have diabetes – hand problems can be more serious if you have diabetes
Information:

Coronavirus (COVID-19) update: how to contact a GP

It's still important to get help from a GP if you need it. To contact your GP surgery:

  • visit their website
  • use the NHS App
  • call them

Find out about using the NHS during COVID-19

Immediate action required: Go to an urgent treatment centre or A&E if you:

  • have severe pain
  • feel faint, dizzy or sick from the pain
  • heard a snap, grinding or popping noise at the time of the injury
  • are not able to move your finger or hold things
  • have a finger that's changed shape or colour
  • have lost the feeling of part or all of your hand after an injury

These might be signs of a broken finger.

What we mean by severe pain
Severe pain:
  • always there and so bad it's hard to think or talk
  • you cannot sleep
  • it's very hard to move, get out of bed, go to the bathroom, wash or dress
Moderate pain:
  • always there
  • makes it hard to concentrate or sleep
  • you can manage to get up, wash or dress
Mild pain:
  • comes and goes
  • is annoying but does not stop you doing daily activities

Common causes of finger pain

Finger pain is often caused by bruising or injuring your finger.

Your symptoms might also give you an idea of what's causing the pain in your finger.

Common causes of finger pain and related symptoms.
Symptoms Possible cause
Pain, swelling and bruising, difficult to move finger or grip anything Sprained finger
Pain, swelling and stiffness at the base of your finger that lasts a long time, may be hard to move your finger, may have a lump Tendonitis (de Quervain's disease) or arthritis
Pain, swelling, cannot straighten the end of your finger, often happens after catching your finger on something Mallet finger
Pain or tenderness in your palm at the base of your finger, stiffness, clicking when you move your finger Trigger finger
Ache, numbness, tingling or weakness in your fingers or hands Carpal tunnel syndrome
Sudden, sharp pain, swelling, a popping or snapping sound during the injury Broken finger
Information:

Do not worry if you're not sure what the problem is.

Follow the advice on this page and see a GP if the pain does not get better in 2 weeks.

You can also read about pain in other areas of your hand.

Page last reviewed: 16 February 2022
Next review due: 16 February 2025