How Do Doctors Typically Treat Joint Pain in Fingers or Toes?


Quick Answer

Long-term treatment of joint pain in the fingers and toes can include taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or the medicine acetaminophen, as well as utilizing heat or ice packs, splints or physical therapy, according to Merck Manuals. Treatment is determined by the underlying cause of the pain, which can be caused by various conditions.

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Heat is best for relieving painful spasms in the muscles around the joints, which often occur after an injury, explains Merck Manuals. If the pain is due to inflammation, cold packs are best. Doctors sometimes immobilize painful joints with a splint to allow them to heal. However, they usually encourage the patient to begin moving the joint as soon as possible to maintain range of motion and strengthen the surrounding muscles. This is especially important if the pain is a long-term condition. Doctors sometimes order physical therapy as well.

One of the most common causes of joint pain is arthritis, which can affect one joint or multiple joints, notes Merck Manuals. There are several types of arthritis, including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis and infectious arthritis. However, when joint pain appears first in the fingers and toes, rheumatoid arthritis is the most likely cause, says Medical News Today. As an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation throughout the body, rheumatoid arthritis sometimes causes pain in the wrists, elbows, shoulders, knees and ankles, in addition to the fingers and toes. Patients also experience stiffness, especially in the morning, tiredness and swollen joints.

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