What's wrong with my finger?
June 2, 2006 9:33 AM   Subscribe

What is causing my horrible finger pain?

For a couple of years now, I have been suffering from slight pain in my right middle finger. This is not joint pain, and it is actually located here, between the tip of my finger and my outermost joint. In the past few months, however, this pain has turned excruciating. My finger is so sensitive that even a drop of water from the shower sends me into the type of pain I have only experienced when smashing my fingers between things before. This can also happen for no reason, especially if it is cold outside.

I am afraid that at some point in the past, I broke my finger and didn't get it treated. I can actually remember a time this could have happened, approximately nine years ago. I don't want to go to the doctor about this, because I know the x-rays will be expensive and I have heard horror stories about doctors having to "re-break" a bone to set it. I saw a doctor about it when it was still just slightly painful, and he told me to put it in some warm or cold water when it hurt. That's not very convenient, is it?

So, my question is: Is it possible I broke my finger years ago and it's just now causing catching up with me? Is there a bigger problem this could be a symptom of? Is it possible to get some kind of carpel tunnel-like disorder in a single finger from use or something? Any help appreciated, thanks in advance.
posted by starbaby to Health & Fitness (9 answers total)
Oh, and I have read this thread, which did not really help because, hypothetically, the person with this problem would have *known* that a previously broken finger is the problem, whereas I do not.
posted by starbaby at 9:39 AM on June 2, 2006

Not knowing what you do for a living or how often you use that finger, could it possibly be a repetitive motion related injury? i experienced something similar a few years back with my right index finger, and solved it by just switching mouse buttons around so that i no longer had to use that finger for clicking.
posted by ab3 at 9:55 AM on June 2, 2006

Hmm. Does Gout run in your family? I think it usually affects the toe, but it can affect the finger also. Has it been the same pain for a really long time, or does it flare up? You'll want to see a doctor, as I'm sure others will tell you. I don't know anything about the possibility of a fractured finger, but I know someone with gout and the pain you're experiencing sounds very similar.
posted by pazazygeek at 9:58 AM on June 2, 2006

I work in a library, where I have repetitively used my hands to shelve books for three years. I already suspect I have carpal tunnel directly related to my job, so it's a possibility.

As far as gout goes, you're right, the description of the pain seems very similar. However, all of the information I can find suggests gout only affects joints. Is it possible I might have it when the joint closest to the point of pain doesn't hurt?
posted by starbaby at 10:34 AM on June 2, 2006

Well, everything I know about gout is entirely anecdotal. But the person that I know who has it originally got the pain in the top of his toe, not directly in the joint, and thought maybe he had bone spurs at first. When he has flare ups, the pain tends to move around, it's almost never directly in the joint. So I wouldn't rule out the possibility because it's not directly in the joint.

If you'd like to avoid visiting the doctor, you could try asking around in your family to see if anybody else had a similar problem or gout. Also, see if the pain coincides with your diet - foods high in purines can cause flare ups. Also, I've heard that changes in barometric pressure can cause pain.

It sounds though, like your pain is pretty intolerable. X-rays can be pretty expensive, but I doubt you'll be able to get a diagnosis or treatment without them. :-/
posted by pazazygeek at 11:00 AM on June 2, 2006

You're probably right about visiting the doctor. I'll probably end up asking him about it the next time I visit, and asking around in my family in the meantime. Thanks for suggesting this, I never would have thought of gout, and I'm sure none of my searches for "finger pain" turned it up, either.
posted by starbaby at 11:02 AM on June 2, 2006

Starbaby you're right - Gout affects joints. And usually in older people: men over age 30, post-menopausal women taking diuretics.

The painful sensation you describe could be any number of things, and the pain level you describe needs some sort of professional treatment. I'd hate for you to read a list of creepy neuro or musculoskeletal disorders on the internet.

You should see a doctor again. It may be something with a simple painless solution. Or pain is sometimes the body's way of saying: Hey something's going on that needs treatment elsewhere then the location of said pain.

Really all pain sensation needs prompt medical attention. I don't mean to sound scary in any way - but listen to your body - it's sending you a message.
posted by dog food sugar at 11:24 AM on June 2, 2006

I don't really have an answer as to cause, but it sounds nerve related, like tactile allodynia. Perhaps a neurologist could provide an answer, if your regular doc is at a loss...
posted by penchant at 11:41 AM on June 2, 2006

I am not a doctor. You should talk to a doctor. That said, about a year ago I got inexplicable pain in the fingers of my left hand, predominantly (and sometimes exclusively) in the thumb. I went to see a doctor, who did some tests and said, "Carpal tunnel." I said, "But I'm not doing anything that would trigger carpal tunnel." He shrugged and said, "Sometimes it just crops up." He prescribed naproxen sodium, which a kindly nurse pointed out later is pretty much the same thing as Aleve. Both worked. No more pain! He was a neurologist and diagnosed this in about ten minutes, which was kind of humiliating.

So, talk to your doctor, it is quite possible that this will have an easy (and cheap!) solution, and then you will (a) no longer be in pain and (b) no longer have to worry about possible causes of said pain.
posted by posadnitsa at 7:45 PM on June 2, 2006

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