What is Proximal Interphalangeal Joint Pain?
Our hands contain up to 27 bones that are connected with ligaments, tendons, and muscles at the joints. The fingers of each hand contain phalanges which are the three bones that form the finger with the exception of the thumb that has only two phalanges. These bones are connected at the joints through a network of connective tissue enabling our fingers to move. (source)
The Proximal Interphalangeal is the middle joint of your finger that can become painful either due to disease or injury. If you are experiencing pain in one or more of your PIP joints, then keep reading to learn more about pain in this important joint of the finger.
Pain in the PIP Joint Caused by Injury
The PIP joint is the most commonly injured joints of the hand, and injury to this joint is frequently observed in athletes. It is also one of the most unforgiving joints when injured as stiffness and pain are a common result following any type of damage to this joint.
Some people will also delay treatment when experiencing injury to the PIP joint but delaying treatment can significantly impact finger mobility as the joint may become stiff over time.
Common injuries of the PIP joint include dislocation, fractures, and sprains. The pain may be accompanied by swelling and loss of motion in the affected joint. Treatment usually involves wearing a splint and if any ligaments are torn surgery. The joint takes an unusually long time to heal – lasting from weeks and up to several months.
Pain Due to Arthritis
Certain forms of arthritis such as rheumatoid arthritis will frequently affect hand joints. The PIP joint is commonly affected in cases of rheumatoid arthritis which is why swelling and pain in this area are a major cause of concern. In the early stages of arthritis, pain in the joint will occur after extensive use of the hand.
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After the initial onset of arthritis, simple tasks such as writing and opening jars can cause severe pain and the pain may be worse after getting up in the morning. If you’ve experienced injury to the PIP joint in the past, pain may occur later in life due to osteoarthritis affecting the injured joint.
In cases of rheumatoid arthritis, the pain is usually not limited to just one joint but affects several joints in the body at a time with the exception of the spinal joints.
Why Arthritis Causes Pain in the Proximal Interphalangeal Joint Pain
Injury and heavy use of the hand through manual and repetitive work can lead to cartilage degradation in the joints of the fingers over you are experiencing pain in one or more of your PIP joints, then keep reading to learn more about pain in this important joint of the finger.
Time leading to osteoarthritis of the hands. The cartilage is the tissue found in the joints whose function is to prevent the bones from grinding against each other. Damage to the cartilage from age-related wear and tear can lead to inflammation and swelling in the affected joint.
In cases of rheumatoid arthritis, the PIP joints become swollen as a result of a malfunctioning immune system. Rheumatoid arthritis is considered to be an autoimmune disorder where the body’s own immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissue.
In cases of rheumatoid arthritis, the body sends white blood cells to the joint synovium leading to inflammation. This is followed by a series of events that lead to structural changes and subsequent deformity of the joints which can significantly impair normal hand functions.
Should I be worried about Proximal Interphalangeal Joint Pain?
If you are experiencing pain in the joints of your hands, it is always a good idea to consult a doctor. The pain can mean a lot of things and a thorough examination is required to rule out possible causes and to establish a definitive diagnosis.
If you suspect arthritis, talk to your physician about finger joint pain to see if you may be affected.
The sooner you start treatment of joint pain, the better your chances of preserving joint flexibility. Although arthritis is irreversible when damage is already done, the disease can be controlled successfully with modern treatment options improving your long-term outcomes. This is especially true if you are experiencing pain in the PIP joints as these joints are important for overall hand functioning.
Proximal Interphalangeal Joint Pain – The Conclusion
The proximal interphalangeal (PIP) joint is the most fragile joints of the human hand as injury to this joint is fairly hard to treat. This particular joint is also first to be affected in cases of rheumatoid arthritis which is a disease that can negatively affect a person’s functioning and well-being.
Because these joints are important for complex hand movements such as writing, holding, and other maneuvers, loss of mobility to these joints due to injury and arthritis can impact a person’s ability to function. If you suspect that you have either injured a PIP joint or that your finger joints are affected by arthritis, do seek advice from a medical professional who will help you preserve hand function with the help of various treatment methods.