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How to Treat Swollen Fingers

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We use our fingers almost constantly and even a slight swelling or pain can cause a lot of discomfort, or worse, make it hard to use the swollen finger at all.

Fingers swell for a lot of reasons and many of them are harmless. Typically, it is the result of inflammation or fluid buildup.

This can be due to an insect bite, an injury like a sprained or jammed finger, a rash, fluid retention, an infection, exposure to extreme temperature, high salt intake or hormonal changes in the body.

It can also be a result of an underlying health problem, such as bursitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, cellulitis, ganglion cyst, fungal infection around the nail, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and septic arthritis, to name a few.

Along with swelling, there may be other symptoms, such as redness, bruising, fatigue, pain, lumps along the finger, numbness or tingling sensations from nerve compression, reduced range of motion, stiffness and swollen joints.

Mild cases of finger swelling heal with time. To reduce swelling and pain faster, you can try some home remedies.

However, if the swelling is accompanied by severe pain, a weak grip or a fever, consult your doctor immediately as it can be due to severe trauma or a serious underlying problem.

how to treat swollen fingers

Here are the top 10 ways to treat swollen fingers.

1. Contrast Hydrotherapy

contrast hydrotherapy for swollen fingers

Both cold and warm water treatments, popularly known as hydrotherapy, can help with finger swelling. Warm water helps improve circulation and cold water plays a key role in reducing swelling and inflammation.

  1. Fill 2 small bowls– one with cold water and the other with warm water.
  2. First, soak the affected finger in warm water for 3 to 4 minutes.
  3. Then, put the finger in the cold water for 1 minute.
  4. Continue alternating steps 2 and 3 for 15 to 20 minutes.
  5. Repeat the treatment 3 or 4 times daily until you get relief.

2. Elevate the Affected Fingers

Poor circulation is one of the key reasons behind swelling in any part of the body, including the fingers.

To reduce swelling due to poor circulation, elevate your hands and fingers above your chest level. This will help improve blood circulation and provide relief from discomforts like swelling, inflammation and pain.

keep your fingers elevated while sitting

Keep the swollen fingers elevated above your chest level. You can sit on a sofa, put a few pillows on its arm rest and rest your hand on it.

keep your fingers elevated while sleeping

To keep the fingers elevated while sleeping, put a few pillows under your hands.

Keep your hands and fingers elevated for 30 minutes a few times a day.

3. Warm Oil Massage

A gentle warm oil massage can also be very helpful in reducing swelling.

warm oil massage for swollen fingers

Massage relaxes sore muscles, stimulates the muscles and improves blood circulation to the affected area. As a bonus, massage encourages drainage of excess fluid, which is a leading cause of swelling.

  1. Warm some mustard oil or olive oil in the microwave.
  2. Dab some of the warm oil on the affected finger.
  3. Using the thumb and forefinger of one hand, gently massage the swollen finger on the opposite hand, starting at the tip of the finger and moving toward your heart.
  4. Massage for 5 minutes at a time.
  5. Do this several times a day.

Note: If massaging causes more pain, stop doing it and consult a doctor.

4. Exercise the Fingers

If your fingers are swollen due to poor circulation, strain or fluid retention, try exercising the fingers to reduce swelling.

exercise for swollen fingers

Exercise causes more blood flow to the area, which stimulates the pressure to reduce fluid retention. Exercise will also reduce strain in the muscles around the affected area.

Flexing your fingers is one of the best exercises to try.

  1. Remove any rings before exercising your fingers.
  2. Close your fingers into a fist and hold it for 1 minute.
  3. Slowly open the fist and stretch out your fingers.
  4. Repeat the cycle several times.
  5. Do this exercise many times a day.

You can also try hand squeezes with a tennis ball or a rubber stress ball.

5. Compression

To help stop swelling, compress the swollen fingers as soon as possible.

compression band for swollen fingers

Compressing the wrist and hand helps prevent fluid from accumulating in the fingers. This in turn stops swelling as well as pain in your fingers.

  1. To apply compression, you can use ace wrap or elastic bandage from the market.
  2. Wrap the bandage using even pressure around your wrist and try to cover your palm, too.
  3. Keep the bandage on during the day until the swelling reduces.
  4. Remove the bandage before you go to sleep.

Note: Do not wrap the bandage too tightly or it can cut off the circulation to your fingers.

You can also try special fingerless compression gloves that are readily available in the market.

6. Turmeric

Turmeric contains the active ingredient curcumin, which offers antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It helps with conditions like arthritis, muscle sprains and other injuries that cause swelling in fingers.

A 2012 study published in Therapeutic Advances in Musculoskeletal Disease demonstrated the positive result of turmeric in pain management and mobility.

  1. Mix ½ teaspoon of turmeric powder with a little olive oil to make a paste.
  2. Apply it over the affected finger.
  3. Allow it to dry for some time, then rinse it off with lukewarm water.
  4. Repeat twice daily to get rid of pain and swelling.

You can opt to take curcumin supplements, but only after consulting your doctor.

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10 thoughts on “How to Treat Swollen Fingers”

  1. Swollen fingers? I have a swollen index finger which has caused me great pain since January 2016 with a small break in between.
    I have used Concentrated Montmorency Cherry Juice which has reduced some of the swelling (caused by gout) and an additional supplement of Celery Seed capsules. At one point, my finger was so large, it was more than twice its normal size. I could not even bear anything touching it. It has now improved but the swelling will never go

  2. i like how u explain the remedies,in that i am saying u are making things more cheap than to go and buy expensive creams.bye

  3. I had a cortisone shot for trigger finger five months ago. This was my 3rd shot over a 2 year period. My middle finger swelled up and became numb the following day. During the past 5 months I had numerous visits with a hand surgeon. I had X-rays and a MRI which did not show anything. He decided on surgery, which was done a week ago. My finger has swollen more and has become very numb and painful to the touch. My stitches come out in a week. I don’t feel that the surgery is going to help.

  4. I smashed/pinched 3 of my fingertips in the sliding garage door last night. One nail is very damaged, with small amounts of bleeding and the nail is loose. The other two the nails are bruised, but mainly the fingertips are very swollen. Which of these therapies would you recommend, especially with broken skin on one of the fingers/nails? They don’t really hurt but the swelling in 2 of them is pretty bad.

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