What is knuckle pain?
Pain in your knuckle can arise from a number of different causes. Knuckle pain may develop as a result of conditions affecting any of the structures in the knuckle, including skin, nerves, muscles, joints, tendons, bones, ligaments, blood vessels, and connective tissue. Injury from trauma and osteoarthritis are common causes of knuckle pain.
You might describe your knuckle pain as sharp, stabbing, dull or throbbing. Your knuckle pain may be mild to severe in intensity and occur only at certain times of day or when you perform certain activities. Moving your knuckle or joints near it may either worsen or relieve the pain. With severe pain related to traumatic injuries, it may be impossible to move the affected knuckle at all.
In some cases, knuckle pain due to injury is localized to only one knuckle. In many cases, several knuckles may be affected. Inflammation within the knuckle causes swelling and pain. Further, rheumatoid arthritis, a chronic autoimmune disease characterized by joint inflammation, and other arthritis-related conditions are associated with knuckle pain, again due to inflammation and swelling.
Knuckle pain may be recent in origin (acute) or may develop over time (chronic). In some situations, knuckle pain can occur as a result of chronic medical conditions you may have that affects your entire body, such as arthritis, vascular disease, or diabetes).
Although life-threatening complications of knuckle pain are rare, seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you have injuries that involve profuse bleeding or tissue damage. In rare cases, infections of the bone (osteomyelitis) or skin and soft tissues (cellulitis) of the knuckle can spread throughout the body, resulting in shock and organ failure. Another rare but potentially life-threatening cause of knuckle pain is cancer of the bones or soft tissues.
If your knuckle injury or condition is persistent, recurrent, or causes you concern, seek prompt medical care.
What other symptoms might occur with knuckle pain?
Knuckle pain may be accompanied by other symptoms, depending on its cause and any underlying diseases or conditions. Some conditions that may affect the hands, such as diabetic neuropathy (nerve damage due to high blood sugar levels associated with diabetes), can cause symptoms in other body systems.
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What causes knuckle pain?
Injury or damage to any of the structures in the knuckle can cause knuckle pain. Diseases that affect the entire body, such as diabetes, arthritis, or vascular disease, are more complex processes that can lead to knuckle pain.