Pain in the index finger


Pain in the index finger is a very common symptom that affects many people. The pain can be of different types: There are stabbing, dull, pressing or throbbing pain. Some pain occurs only during or after loading the index finger, others are permanent and / or independent of loading or movement. A distinction must also be made whether the pain radiates into the hand itself.
In some cases, pain in the index finger is accompanied by so-called neurological symptoms, which are often perceived as tingling ("pins and needles") or numbness ("furry feeling").


Treatment and therapy must always depend on the cause of the pain. In the case of traumatic injuries such as a household or sports accident without cracks or cuts in the skin, the so-called PECH rule can be used. If the skin is injured and blood leaks, it should first be cleaned with a sterile compress or something similar. the bleeding will be stopped. If the bleeding does not stop on its own after a few minutes, see a doctor. In the case of rheumatic diseases or arthrosis, a special therapy must be carried out. As a rule, conservative measures such as physiotherapy, cooling pads or specific medication are used here, but less often also surgical measures.


There are many causes of pain in the index finger. Basically, a distinction must be made between various large categories: So-called traumatic injuries (trauma) result from external forces, for example sports injuries in which the finger is bent unnaturally, but also from trapping or blows to the finger. The simplest examples are a sprained or (broken) finger. In the case of traumatic injuries, the cause is usually obvious and is determined by the patient himself. There is overlap here with the very common arthrosis, known as joint wear.
In contrast, there are inflammatory diseases that arise, for example, when bacteria enter through a wound in the finger. However, inflammations can also develop without foreign bodies, for example in so-called autoimmune diseases. Here the immune system attacks the body's own structures. Another important point are the so-called internal diseases. These are diseases that are not limited to the finger, but take place in several organs or in the whole body, but whose symptoms show up in the index finger.

Herberden osteoarthritis

Heberden's arthrosis is understood to mean arthrosis of the finger end joint (also often called "distal interphalangeal joint" or DIP). The index finger and little finger are typically affected. For this purpose, so-called Heberden nodes are formed, which can be felt on the finger joint and usually also visible. The consistency of the nodes is hard and cartilaginous, similar to the hard parts of the auricle. A relapsing course is typical, symptoms such as pain, restricted mobility and loss of strength occur during the attacks. Symptoms may decrease or even go away between attacks.

Heberden's osteoarthritis usually affects women (around 80%) and occurs very frequently during the menopause. It is therefore debated whether a hormonal change in the body could be the cause of Heberden's osteoarthritis. In addition, there is an accumulation within families, which is why genetic factors probably also play a role. Heberden's osteoarthritis can also occur together with Bouchard's osteoarthritis (see below).

You might also be interested in this topic: Finger osteoarthritis

Bouchard arthrosis

Bouchard osteoarthritis is the arthrosis of the middle finger joint. The clinical picture is similar to that of Heberden's osteoarthritis (see above). Here, too, swellings and pain occur with restricted mobility, and heberden nodules (see above) can also occur. Bouchard osteoarthritis also affects women more often, but overall it is less common than Heberden's osteoarthritis. As the disease progresses, there may be permanent pain at rest. Bouchard osteoarthritis is also often associated with osteoarthritis in other joints such as the knees or spine.

Also read: Finger osteoarthritis or home remedies for finger osteoarthritis

Tendonitis in the index finger

Tendovaginitis is an inflammation of the sheath-like structures that surround muscles. Any tendon sheath can be affected, that is, both the flexor tendons and the extensor tendons. The main symptom of tendinitis in the index finger is pain in the area of ​​the affected tendon sheath, which gets worse with movement. The area of ​​the next joint typically shows swelling and redness.

Tendonitis in the index finger is usually treated conservatively. This means that therapy is often carried out using immobilization and pain relieving ointments or tablets that contain, for example, the active ingredients ibuprofen or diclofenac.


In gout the pain occurs very suddenly compared to most of the other diseases mentioned. The typical symptoms of redness, swelling and overheating of a joint occur. The gout attack often occurs after a particularly large meal, often also after alcohol consumption. The diagnosis can usually be confirmed with a blood sample. The blood count shows increased uric acid and inflammation levels. The kidney function should also be clarified as part of the examination. The gout can affect almost any joint, the big toe being most commonly affected. An infestation of the index finger is also possible in principle.

More information on this topic: Symptoms of gout or Therapy of gout


The popularly known disease "rheumatism" is actually not an independent disease. Although rheumatism used to be a term for a disease in its own right, it has been found in the last few decades that there are many diseases that cause symptoms of what is known as rheumatism. These diseases are summarized under the "rheumatoid group". The most common disease from the group of forms is rheumatoid arthritis. This can also develop on the index finger. The metatarsophalangeal joints and the median joints of the fingers are usually affected here. In addition, the condition usually affects the same joints on both hands symmetrically.

Inform yourself: How do you recognize rheumatism?

Psoriatic arthritis

Psoriatic arthritis is arthritis (inflammation of the joints) in patients with psoriasis (psoriasis). This can affect large joints such as the knees or spine, but also the fingers and hands. If the fingers are affected, the middle and end joints are usually affected. In contrast to most other rheumatoid diseases, psoriatic arthritis often affects only one finger, but then all of the joints on it ("involvement in the beam"). The affected finger is then typically swollen and restricted in movement.

Injury to the joint capsule

Injuries to the capsule are very common injuries to the finger, especially the index finger. The capsule is a ligament that surrounds and stabilizes each finger joint. A capsule or ligament injury is popularly called a "sprain". They arise from external force, usually by bending against the natural direction of the joint. Typical causes are sports accidents (especially ball or martial arts) or household accidents. Most of the time the joint capsule is pulled, in severe cases the capsule can tear and possibly even tear out bone parts. Then the joint is often visibly dislocated ("dislocated"). In these cases a doctor must be consulted in any case.

Read more about this: Capsule tear on the finger

Concomitant symptoms

In the case of pain in the index finger, accompanying symptoms can also occur, i.e. other symptoms that occur together with the pain. In the case of trauma (injury by external forces) such as a sports or household accident, typical symptoms such as redness and swelling appear in addition to the pain. In the case of acute trauma, in which the skin is also injured, blood can leak out, while in the case of a blunt trauma the blood cannot drain and is then noticeable as a hematoma (bruise). In addition, there is often a restriction in movement caused by the swelling, which means that the finger can no longer be bent, stretched or loaded properly. If nerves are also stressed in one form - for example in carpal tunnel syndrome or in a herniated disc - typical symptoms of nerve irritation such as numbness or tingling (pins and needles) occur. Often there is a so-called radiation, which means that the pain can also be felt in other places, such as in the hand or even in the arm. If there are accompanying neurological symptoms such as tingling or numbness, a doctor should be consulted quickly.


Swelling is a typical symptom accompanying various causes of pain in the index finger. It is a collection of fluid in the tissue. Swelling is a non-specific indication of tissue damage or inflammation.

The swelling with pain on the index finger is usually caused by trauma. A distinction is made here between acute trauma, for example a stab wound with a knife, and blunt trauma, for example in the case of an accidentally trapped or bent finger. Most of the swelling is caused by blood leaking from an injured blood vessel, which can lead to a hematoma (bruise). In addition, in the case of trauma, there is also a release of so-called inflammatory mediators of the body to a small extent. This accelerates wound healing and the defense against any bacteria that may have entered, but the typical signs of inflammation arise, which also include swelling. This inflammatory process also causes the swelling of the inflammatory causes (see above), but this often leads to an incorrectly regulated, chronic and excessive inflammation, which then no longer has any positive effects.

Fingertip pain

Pain at the fingertip of the index finger means painful sensations above the wrist. The pain in this area can also occur in the area of ​​the fingernail or radiate from it. The quality of the pain can vary greatly depending on the cause of the pain. In the case of nerve injuries, symptoms such as tingling, pins and needles or numbness at the fingertips can occur in addition to pain. In addition to nerve damage, other possible causes are overuse, for example in the context of an office job, inflammation of the joints or tendinitis in the index finger.

Read more on this topic: Fingertip pain

Pain when moving

If the index finger hurts when moving, many clinical pictures can hide behind it. In terms of frequency, uncomplicated trauma is again the most common cause, but almost all of the other diseases mentioned above can also be the cause. In older patients with no other symptoms, osteoarthritis should be considered, and rheumatoid arthritis can only manifest itself in later life. Overloading can occur especially with young people, especially when the index finger is heavily strained, for example when working on a computer. Tendonitis is a common complication. In principle, however, all diseases that affect the index finger can also be painful when moving - even if the movement itself is not the cause of the pain.

Pain when bending and stretching

Pain in the index finger when bending and stretching the finger is a very common symptom. They occur after almost every capsule injury, but also often in the context of osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis (see above). Since pain when bending and stretching is very unspecific, a doctor should always be consulted if the cause of the pain is unknown.

nocturnal pain in the index finger

Nocturnal pain in the index finger can be an early symptom of carpal tunnel syndrome. The pain typically occurs in the thumb, index finger and middle finger and improves after massaging or shaking out the affected hand.

In addition, nocturnal pain in the index finger can be a symptom of other causes. To rule out nerve damage, one should see a doctor and have the hand examined.

Snap finger

Schnappfinger is a special form of tendonitis. There is a tendovaginitis stenosans in the area of ​​the flexor tendons of the hand. The snap finger is also called a “quick finger”, trigger finger.

Characteristically, the first ring ligament is narrowed and the tendon cannot slide freely through the ligament. This hampers the flexion and extension of the index finger and clinically the finger "snaps" jerkily when it is flexed or extended. In addition to stiffness of the affected finger, those affected can suffer from pressure-sensitive swelling and a feeling of tension.

Initially, the snap finger is usually treated conservatively, with anti-inflammatory ointments or cortisone. In the long term, only a short operation can help, whereby the ring ligament stenosis is split under anesthesia.

You can find more information about the OP at: Surgery on a trigger finger or therapy on a trigger finger


The diagnosis of pain in the index finger is usually made by the patient himself. In order to find out the cause of the pain, a doctor is usually required to carry out further examinations. Only in the case of clear traumatic causes such as a cut or a bruise can the patient determine the cause himself and in the case of mild symptoms a doctor's visit can be waited for.

Appointment with a hand specialist?

I would be happy to advise you!

Who am I?
My name is dr. Nicolas Gumpert. I am a specialist in orthopedics and the founder of .
Various television programs and print media report regularly about my work. On HR television you can see me every 6 weeks live on "Hallo Hessen".
But now enough is indicated ;-)

In order to be able to treat successfully in orthopedics, a thorough examination, diagnosis and a medical history are required.
In our very economic world in particular, there is too little time to thoroughly grasp the complex diseases of orthopedics and thus initiate targeted treatment.
I don't want to join the ranks of "quick knife pullers".
The aim of any treatment is treatment without surgery.

Which therapy achieves the best results in the long term can only be determined after looking at all of the information (Examination, X-ray, ultrasound, MRI, etc.) be assessed.

You can find me at:

  • Lumedis - orthopedics
    Kaiserstrasse 14
    60311 Frankfurt am Main

Directly to the online appointment arrangement
Unfortunately, appointments can only be made with private health insurers. I ask for understanding!
Further information about myself can be found at Lumedis - Dr. Nicolas Gumpert

Localization of pain

Pain in the metatarsophalangeal joint of the index finger

If there is pain in the metatarsophalangeal joint of the index finger, there is often a rheumatic disease. This is usually treated with pain relievers and anti-inflammatories. If so-called rheumatoid nodules have already formed, which severely deform the joint, surgery can also lead to a significant improvement in pain and restricted mobility. If there is osteoarthritis, pain therapy is also in the foreground. A wide variety of therapy options can be weighed up for long-term treatment; please note the separate entry for osteoarthritis.

Pain in the middle of the index finger

The pain in the middle of the index finger is typical of Bouchard osteoarthritis in older people without previous trauma. Bouchard osteoarthritis is usually treated gently, only rarely are the pain or restrictions in movement so severe that an operation is necessary. Rheumatoid arthritis can also become noticeable in the middle of the index finger, see above (pain in the middle of the index finger).

Pain in the forefinger joint

Arthrosis of the forefinger joint is also common in older people and is called Heberden's arthrosis. Here, too, the pain is treated primarily with medication and the inflammation is inhibited. Compared to Bouchard's osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, surgical procedures, such as joint stiffening, are more important here.

Pain between the index and middle fingers

Pain between the index and middle fingers can be caused by various causes. Carpal tunnel syndrome can be an early symptom of pain in this area. In addition, tendon injuries or joint capsule injuries can occur in the area of ​​the carpal bones and fingers

Capsule injuries and tendon injuries also trigger pain that radiates into the area between the index and middle fingers. Office work overload is another possible cause of these complaints. Immobilization and the application of anti-inflammatory ointments containing the active ingredients ibuprofen or diclofenac can help alleviate symptoms in the event of overload.

Pain when using a computer mouse

If you experience pain when using the computer mouse, this often indicates that the computer mouse is overburdened due to excessive, one-sided use. In addition to pain, abnormal sensations such as tingling, pins and needles or numbness occasionally occur. Symptoms can spread from the index finger to the arm and shoulder. Such a radiation of symptoms is called a mouse arm or RSI syndrome (Repetitive Strain Injury Syndrome).

You might also be interested in this article: "Mouse arm"


How long the pain in the index finger lasts depends on the disease. For rheumatic diseases it is typical that the pain occurs in phases, i.e. lasts for several days or weeks and then disappears again for a longer period of time. The course of the pain can also depend on the time of day. For example, it is typical for rheumatic diseases that pain occurs in the morning, which then improves over the course of the day.