Dealing With Index Finger Pain
The Many Uses Of The Index Finger
It doesn't seem terribly surprising that we experienced as much index finger pain as we sometimes do. After all, we do quite a bit with our index finger. We point with it (some Europeans use the middle finger instead to point with), we pinch things between the index finger and the thumb, we use it to tap on things, we dip it into liquids to see if they're too hot or too cold, and so on. When we use our fingers to lift or carry something, such as a bucket filled with water, the index finger often bears the brunt of the load. When we want to feel or test the texture of something, it's our index finger that gets the call. We even stick it in our mouth and hold it up in the air to check for the presence of a breeze, or for wind direction. We use it to hold a pen or pencil, and when typing, the index finger gets used as much, if not more, than most of the other fingers, especially if one is a poor typist.
The index finger is a very busy finger, so when we experience index finger pain, it can affect a great number of things we do, and take for granted doing without discomfort during the course of a typical day. If the index finger hurts, we want to do something about it right away, even when it may be the smallest splinter or thorn.
The Anatomy Of The Index Finger
The part of the index finger we see contains three bones. From the front of the hand to the tip of the finger they are the index proximal phalanx, the index middle phalanx, and the index distal phalanx. A fourth bone, still a part of the index finger, but lying within the hand, is the index metacarpal bone, the longest of the index finger bones. Between these bones lie the four index finger joints. These joints are often the most common sources of index finger pain, aside from an injury to the finger itself.
As is the case with almost any joint in the body, arthritis can cause pain in the finger. Arthritis can affect any or all of the joints in a finger. There is a specific name for the arthritis in each joint. For example, arthritis in the end joint of the finger is referred to as index distal interphalangeal joint arthritis. Arthritis in any of the other joints has a similarly long name. The interphalangeal joint refers to the joint between the distal phalanx and the middle phalanx, the bones described above. This particular joint, the distal interphalangeal joint is the smallest of the joints in the index finger, but if you injure it, or have arthritis in it, and the finger is on the hand you write with, trying to grip a pen could be quite painful. If the arthritis is in a joint of the finger that lies nearer the wrist, it can make attempting to unscrew the lid on a bottle quite painful at times, as many older people can attest to.
If you injure your finger, you can either treat it yourself, or you may need a physician to treat it, especially if the need for a cast, splint, or brace is part of the treatment. Sometimes an old injury can still cause occasional pain in a hand or a finger, like a pain we sometimes may experience when the weather is changing. Injury to a joint can often lead to arthritis in that joint. Overuse of a joint can also lead to arthritis. It may be hard to imagine overusing the index finger, but its joints can and do suffer wear and tear over the course of a lifetime.
Preventing Finger Pain
While arthritis tends to be a permanent condition, it can be treated in most cases, and often requires nothing more than a pain reliever whenever there is a flare-up. Yoga instructors, and instructors who teach stretching, balance, and flexibility courses often remind us to not to forget to exercise our fingers, or at least wiggle them rapidly on occasion. Exercising a joint is often all that is needed to keep arthritis at bay. There's no guarantee of course, but when we make it a point to regularly exercise the various members of our body, the chances disorders developing is often significantly lowered. In addition to working and lubricating the joints, exercise also keeps the muscles in the finger in good tone, which gives added protection to the joints.
There may or may not have been significant studies conducted on the subject of index finger pain, but it would seem that those who are aware of the importance of exercising joints, and have made it a practice to do so, would be less inclined to experience index finger pain that is associated with arthritis. Following proper nutritional guidelines can help too, especially when our dietary habits keep our immune system strong. A strong immune system lessens the chances of arthritis gaining a foothold in an index finger, or in any other joint in the body.