Finger joint swelling that is not arthritis

What would cause swelling in one finger?

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What would cause swelling in one finger?

Although arthritis is a common cause of finger swelling, other conditions — such as injuries, preeclampsia, and trauma — can also cause finger swelling, inflammation, and pain.

Finger joint swelling that is not arthritis

Finger swelling can happen when inflammation or fluid accumulates in the tissues or joints of one or all of the fingers. A person may lose some mobility and notice that their fingers are stiffer and more tender than usual.

Both minor and more severe infections and conditions can cause varying degrees of swelling in the fingers. If someone experiences finger swelling along with pain, heat, and flushing, they should seek urgent medical advice.

Read on to learn more about some potential causes of finger joint swelling that are not arthritis, accompanying symptoms, and treatment options.

Heat edema

During hot weather, the blood vessels dilate Trusted Source. This makes it possible for more blood to flow through the skin, which cools it down as it loses heat to the air. When this happens, people may notice their fingers and feet swelling.


Generally, when someone experiences heat edema, their skin is shinier and stretched around the swollen area. They may also feel a tightness in their fingers when picking up cups and other objects.


To reduce heat edema, people should try to move into the shade. They should also ensure that they eat and drink enough during the day.


When a person exercises, they feel hotter. To cool down, the body pushes the blood closer to the surfaceTrusted Source of the skin to dissipate the heat. When this happens, a person may notice swelling in their hands, fingers, and feet.

However, finger swelling is sometimes a symptom of a more serious condition called hyponatremiaTrusted Source. Exercise-related hyponatremia occurs when blood sodium concentration drops to a dangerous level because a person is exercising and drinking too much water without replacing lost electrolytes.


The early stages of hyponatremia may present with puffiness and swelling in the hands and feet. If a person has hyponatremia, they require urgent medical attention.

Some other symptoms of hyponatremia include:

  • confusion
  • dizziness
  • headache
  • seizures
  • coma


Finger swelling from exercising usually goes down when a person takes a break or ends their workout.

Treatment for hyponatremia varies depending on how low a person’s blood sodium levels are. Some people may need to stop drinking until they urinate, whereas others may need intravenous (IV) saline.

When blood sodium levels are severely low, some people may need hospital admission for close monitoring and frequent blood work. This is because hyponatremia requires very careful correction. However, if correction occurs too quickly, some people can become sicker, and this can be life threatening.


Common causes Trusted Source of hand and finger injuries include:

  • falls
  • sports
  • catching fingers in machines
  • thermal burns
  • chemical burns

When a person hurts their hand or fingers, they usually experience pain and swelling and lose finger mobility for a while.

If the damage is particularly severe, a person may later develop complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS). CRPS occurs when the body’s inflammatory response to the injury is too high.


Some CRPS symptoms include:

  • stiffness
  • pain
  • swelling
  • changes in skin color


When a person injures their finger, immediate treatment usually includes:

  • taking over-the-counter (OTC) anti-inflammatory medications
  • taking OTC pain relief medications
  • taping the finger to restrict movement

If stiffness develops, the person may need to perform finger exercises and continue to take anti-inflammatory medications.


Hand and finger infections are common in people who work on farms and building sites. Staphylococcus aureus is the most prevalent bacterial hand infection and is responsible for 80% of casesTrusted Source.


Depending on where the infection is, a person could experience:

  • pain
  • heat around the swelling
  • skin darkening
  • abscess
  • loss of finger function

A person may also experience systemic infections, which cause symptoms such as fever and chills. This may be more likely if there is joint involvement of the infection.


Antibiotics can treat bacterial infections. HSV could resolve on its own, but a doctor may recommend antiviral treatment if it does not. Depending on how severe a fungal infection is, a doctor usually prescribes topical antifungal medications to apply to the affected area before considering oral medication.


Some swelling in the fingers is normal during pregnancy. However, if swelling occurs rapidly and with other symptoms, a person should contact a doctor immediately.

In the last trimester of pregnancy, some people experience preeclampsia. When this happens, blood pressure and swelling suddenly increase, which can be dangerous for both the parent and the fetus.


When a person has preeclampsia, they may experience:

  • swelling in the fingers, hands, and feet
  • a persistent headache
  • blurry vision
  • difficulty breathing


When preeclampsia is mild, a doctor usually watches the person closely until they give birth. During this time, the doctor may test their blood and urine and monitor the fetus with an ultrasound.

In severe cases of preeclampsia, the individual may receive IV medication to control their blood pressure and prevent seizures.

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