Your hands and feet put up with a lot of stress throughout the day, so they could be sore for any number of reasons. If you haven’t suffered an injury, or your doctor rules out common problems like sprains, strains, and fractures, your finger and toe symptoms may signal an underlying health condition.
Many of the possible sources of finger and toe pain are chronic rheumatologic diseases that keep getting worse if you don’t seek treatment.
At Pacific Rheumatology Medical Center, Behnam Khaleghi, MD, has extensive experience getting to the root of the problem, diagnosing the cause of your symptoms, and creating personalized treatments that protect your long-term health and well-being.
This list highlights the most common causes of finger and toe pain associated with conditions treated by rheumatologists.
Inflamed tendons (tendonitis) frequently affect your fingers and toes. Tendons connect muscles to bones, allowing you to move your toes, fingers, hands, and feet. Though tendons are strong, they become inflamed from repeated movement.
In addition to soreness or pain, tendonitis limits your ability to move or use your toes or fingers. Without treatment, chronic inflammation weakens the tendon, causing scarring and ultimately leading to a torn tendon.
Rheumatoid arthritis occurs when your immune system mistakenly attacks the synovial tissues lining your joints. Though rheumatoid arthritis can affect any joint, and even spread beyond the joints to affect organs throughout your body, it most often begins in the small joints in your fingers and toes.
The immune attack causes chronic inflammation that often begins with soreness, tenderness, and pain in your fingers and toes. However, it doesn’t take long for redness, swelling, and joint stiffness to appear, making it a little easier to tell if your soreness may be caused by rheumatoid arthritis.
Another hallmark symptom is that the pain and stiffness are worse when you first wake up (or after resting) and may last for hours. Early treatment is essential because we have medications that slow progressive bone damage, protecting you from joint deformities.
Raynaud’s syndrome causes pain, tingling, and numbness when your fingers and toes are exposed to cold temperatures or you’re under emotional stress. The skin in the affected areas also turns white and blue.
Though you may have Raynaud’s syndrome alone, these changes in your fingers and toes are also symptoms of the following rheumatic diseases:
- Scleroderma (causes thick, hard skin on your hands, arms, knees, legs, and feet)
- Lupus (causes inflammation in any part of your body)
- Sjogren’s syndrome (causes dry eyes and a dry mouth)
- Rheumatoid arthritis (causes joint inflammation and stiffness)
These four conditions are autoimmune diseases, meaning they begin when your immune system attacks healthy organs and tissues.
Many people with one autoimmune disease develop a second condition, and sometimes a third, making it a challenge to sort through your symptoms and determine the root cause. As autoimmune experts, we specialize in finding the reason for your symptoms.
Gout is another type of inflammatory arthritis that flares up when uric acid crystals accumulate in your joints — most commonly the joint at the base of your big toe and less often your fingers.
Your body usually eliminates excess uric acid (a natural byproduct of metabolism). But if your blood levels get too high, the uric acid turns into tiny crystals.
Gout appears in a sudden flare-up that no one would ever describe as a sore toe. A gout flare up often begins during the night, causing a red, swollen, and intensely painful joint. However, the severe pain slowly improves, and then the toe may stay sore for weeks.
Don’t wait to seek help for finger or toe soreness, pain, swelling, or stiffness. Call Pacific Rheumatology Medical Center today or connect online to request an appointment.