What to Do About Pain Between the Thumb and Index Finger

Oct 21, 2020

What to Do About Pain Between the Thumb and Index FingerWhen you experience pain in one or both of your hands, then you know just how much even the smallest pain can affect how you move throughout your day. Our hands are involved in so much of what we do every hour of every day. If you notice pain getting worse or that won’t go away, you might want to talk to your doctor or a hand surgeon to find out if anything is going on inside your hand that may cause you more problems down the line.

Causes of Pain Between Fingers

Sometimes we experience pain in our hand simply due to overuse or wear and tear, or from a specific injury to your hand. However, there are also other reasons why you might experience pain in your hand, specifically pain between your thumb and index finger. There are a few different causes for why the muscle in between your thumb and index finger could become injured, damaged, or inflamed.


There are two types of arthritis that can contribute to pain in your hand and between your fingers. Osteoarthritis refers to arthritis that affects your bones. When the flexible tissue that supports the bones in your hand is worn down, it can cause swelling, pain, and stiffness in your hand. Osteoarthritis can especially affect the joints in your fingers and even where your thumb meets your wrist.

Another type of arthritis that can lead to pain in your hands and fingers is rheumatoid arthritis. This type of arthritis affects how your joints lose their natural lubrication. This can also develop with aging, and when your joints become inflamed and stiff, the inflammation can even begin to affect your tendons.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is most commonly known in relation to wrist pain, though that pain can also radiate into your hand and fingers, as well as down through your arm. If the carpal tunnel passageway in your wrist becomes inflamed, it can put pressure on nerves that can lead to pain, numbness, and even affect your grip.

Other Causes

Other reasons for pain in your hand and between your thumb and fingers can be due to tendinitis or a ganglion cyst. With tendonitis, the tendons in your hand can become inflamed, which can lead to pain. A ganglion cyst refers to a lump you may notice in your hand that could press on your nerves or cause inflammation.

When to Meet with a Doctor

If you are experiencing pain in your hand that won’t go away and is affecting your ability to complete daily tasks, you should meet with a doctor or hand surgeon to learn more about what is going on. You should also seek medical treatment immediately if you notice you are no longer able to move your thumb, or notice that your thumb and surrounding area looks swollen or crooked.

Because our hands are so important and integral to our daily lives, you want to trust your diagnosis and treatment of any hand issue to a doctor who specialized in working with hands. A hand surgeon or orthopedic hand specialist actually receives additional advanced training in treating hand problems.

Diagnostics for Hand and Finger Pain

When you meet with a hand surgeon, they will likely want to use state of the art diagnostic imaging tools to get a clear picture of what is going on inside your hand. X-rays may be used to confirm or rule out a broken bone or damage to any bones in your hand. MRIs and CT scans provide even more detailed imaging to your hand surgeon, including how the soft tissues in your hand may be affected. Your doctor may also recommend an EMG test to check on how your hand muscles and nerves respond to signals.

Treatments for Hand and Finger Pain

Once your hand surgeon or orthopedic hand specialist has diagnosed the issue, they will then be able to provide you with a treatment plan that will help address the pain and also the root cause. In mild to moderate cases of hand problems and injuries, your doctor may also be able to recommend techniques you can do at home to help manage your pain while your hand heals. Alternating heat and cold temperatures can help provide immediate relief, especially when swelling is involved. They may also recommend medication to help with swelling and inflammation that is contributing to pain. Some causes of hand pain like arthritis can get worse with age and time, so it is important to diagnose this early so your doctor can help you avoid chronic pain and discomfort.


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