Finger arthritis: What are the initial signs?

There are 2 forms of finger arthritis that affect millions of individuals all over the globe. One form is osteoarthritis which is caused by progressive deterioration of the cartilage that provides padding amidst the bones in the joints. Rheumatoid arthritis is another form which is an autoimmune ailment that causes the body to wrongly attack the joint tissues.

The usual early indications of finger arthritis include warmth, pain, swelling, rigidity and weakness.

Close look on the initial signs of finger arthritis

Pain and warmth

The joint pain is typically the initial indication of finger arthritis. The discomfort generally worsens with activity especially if the hands were not used for some time.


The usual early indications of finger arthritis include warmth, pain, swelling, rigidity and weakness.

Initially, the discomfort might be mild or brief. Nevertheless, it becomes intense as the condition progresses. When it comes to osteoarthritis, it can trigger pain in one or several finger joints, usually at the joints at the finger ends and base of the thumb.

Rheumatoid arthritis usually affects several joints and occurs in the same fingers on both hands. The swollen finger joints are warm to the touch as well.


In some instances, the swelling might be the primary indication of finger arthritis. The affected fingers feel puffy especially upon waking in the morning while the knuckles have disappeared. This makes it hard to hold objects.

The swelling settles throughout the day. The muscle contractions while the hand is moved helps drive excess fluid out of the fingers. Additionally, wearing compression gloves while sleeping can prevent the swelling.


The stiffness or rigidity of the joint might arise as an initial symptom of finger arthritis. There is difficulty in bending the fingers upon waking up especially if they are swollen.

Daily tasks such as brushing the teeth or getting dressed can be difficult if the fingers are stiff. If the individual has osteoarthritis, the rigidity might subside in a few minutes as the flow of blood to the fingers improves if exposed to warm water or when movement is started.


It is important to note that weakness might also be an indication of finger arthritis. The individual might be dropping objects or has difficulty turning door knobs.

Since osteoarthritis usually affects the thumb, there is difficulty holding a book or turning a key. The weakness is more evident in the evening if the individual is tired. This might arise as the disease progresses and the joint tissues deteriorate.