Swelling of the finger, also known as inflammation is characterized by accumulation of fluids in the tissues of your finger. A build up of fluid elsewhere in the body, especial body cavities or legs is called edema. Inflammation may be painless or very painful. Pain generation depends largely on the amount of fluid accumulated. Edema may also be accompanied by different other conditions such as itchiness, skin color change to pink or red, numbness, stiffness and tenderness. Pain is mainly due to injury of the surrounding tissues due to the tension that is generated as the cells swell.
Swollen pinky finger may be a manifestation of a destructive medical condition localized to your finger or affecting the whole body. Severity of inflammation largely depends on the underlying variables. Minor inflammation may be due to slightly overworked supportive tissues such as writing for extended periods of time. Severe injury normally indicates major injuries such as broken bone or medical conditions such as arthritis.
The time taken for remission to occur depends on the type of swelling. Inflammation caused by injury to your finger such as a prick has a rapid onset and tends to subside once the injurious agent is removed. Such type of swelling is described as acute. It can be complicated if the damage caused is severe.
An example of a complicated acute inflammation is a broken finger. Acute inflammation can actually cause chronic inflammation. In chronic inflammation, the swelling is present for extended duration. This type of swelling also tends to be caused by other medical conditions rather than injury. Management of these two types is different and the persistent type tends to be stubborn as it may recur easily.
Causes of swollen pinky finger
Causes of inflamed finger are diverse but all result in injury or damage to the structures of the finger. Common causes of edematous extremities are highlighted as follows; burns, dislocation of bones, injuries due to extended use, bite or sting injuries both by insects or other people, broken bones, sports injuries, tendon rupture or toe sprain. Other causes can be classified as inflammatory, arthritic, situational and others.
Inflammatory causes of swollen pinky finger result into either single or multiple digits. More often however, multiple digits are affected. These variables include abscesses which are localized accumulation of pus resulting from infection or foreign body under the skin, blisters and bunions, bursitis which is a reactive condition involving a sac that cushions the joints, osteomyelitis, paronychia or nail infection, tendonitis, skin ulceration and vasculitis or inflammation of blood vessels.
Arthritic causes are due to edema in the joint cavity and its lining tissues. Arthritic conditions that can cause this condition include gout, which is caused by increased uric acid in the joints, osteoarthritis caused by wearing and tearing of the lining cartilage and bone around joint and rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic autoimmune condition manifested by joint swelling. It is the major cause of this condition with deformed digits as a complication.
Situational causes include extended car rides or airplane travel, pregnancy and surgeries. Other rare causes include alcohol abuse, benign or malignant tumors, blood clots, buerger disease, side effects of some medication, high body mass index as in obesity and peripheral artery disease. Peripheral artery disease, PAD, is narrowing of arteries and veins in the digits and extremities due to accumulation of cholesterol in the walls.
Symptoms associated with swollen pinky finger
Apart from the pain that you may experience, this condition is accompanied by several other symptoms. These include bleeding bruising, a burning sensation, restricted movement of the digits, itching, numbness of affected digit, stiffness, tingling sensation and lumps and nodules. Rare conditions are fever, enlarged lymph nodes, rash and pink or red streaks on the skin of the digits. Paralysis or inability to move may also be observed.
Ocular manifestations include change in color perception, eye pain or loss of vision. You may also experience a headache especially in the morning. Slurred speech or inability to speak can be observed.
Although complications of finger swelling are rare, if the cause for the edema is profuse loss of blood you should see a doctor immediately. This is because profuse bleeding leads to large amount of blood loss. When you lose a lot of blood you might develop a condition called hypovolemic shock which is life-threatening condition caused by little blood in your circulation. Inflamed finger could also be a complication of other serious medical conditions. If you ignore such early signs of the manifestation of these conditions, you may be at a greater risk of developing their complications.
Such conditions include osteomyelitis which is infection of the bone and cellulitis which is infection of the skin or soft tissues. These infections can spread throughout your body causing major health complications or even death. Other complications include amputation, deformity, difficulty in performing certain activities such as writing, disability and paralysis. Discomfort though not life-threatening can be so disturbing psychologically.