Some factors that can lead to arthritis in the finger joints include injuries to the hand and fingers, obesity, and repetitive hand motions that cause stress on the finger joints.

Arthritis in the fingers is inflammation and damage affecting the finger joints. It can cause stiffness, swelling, pain, and a decreased range of motion.

This article looks at the factors that can increase a person’s risk of developing arthritis in the fingers, how to prevent this condition, and when to speak with a doctor about arthritis.

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Osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA) are two of the most common types of arthritis, and both can affect the fingers.

Other forms that can affect the fingers include:

These conditions each have different underlying causes and may present with varying symptoms.

Factors that may lead a person to be more likely to develop arthritis in the fingers include the following:

Occupations and repetitive motions

Occupations or activities that involve repetitive hand movements or stress on the fingers can contribute to the development of arthritis.

Some examples include:

  • typing
  • assembly line work
  • playing musical instruments
  • knitting or crochet

Joint injuries

Previous injuries to the fingers, such as dislocations or fractures, can increase the risk of developing arthritis. The trauma may lead to an accelerated breakdown of cartilage and the development of OA or post-traumatic arthritis.


Certain infections can trigger an immune response that leads to joint inflammation and, in some cases, the development of arthritis.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) highlight Lyme disease as a key example. It occurs due to a bacterium transmitted through tick bites. If left untreated or inadequately treated, Lyme disease can progress and result in Lyme arthritis.

This condition typically affects larger joints, such as the knees. However, it can also affect other joints in the body, causing:

Learn more about Lyme disease.

Inflammatory conditions

Some inflammatory conditions may increase the risk of developing arthritis. This can include conditions that specifically affect the skin or immune system.

For example, around 33% of people with psoriasis also develop psoriatic arthritis. In the fingers, psoriatic arthritis can cause swelling, pain, and changes in the nails.

Several risk factors can increase the likelihood of developing arthritis in the fingers. While some aspects are beyond a person’s control, they may be able to influence or modify others.

The Arthritis Foundation highlights the following risk factors:

  • Age: The risk of developing arthritis, including osteoarthritis, increases with age. As people get older, wear and tear on the joints over time can lead to arthritis.
  • Sex: Females are more likely than males to develop certain types of arthritis, such as RA.
  • Family history: People with a family history of arthritis, particularly RA or OA, may have a higher risk of developing it in the fingers. Genetic factors can contribute to the susceptibility to arthritis.
  • Joint alignment and structure: Atypical joint alignments or structures, such as crooked fingers or malformations, can predispose individuals to arthritis.
  • Obesity: Excess fat cells drive the body’s inflammatory process, raising the risk of certain types of arthritis. Around 1 in 3 people in the United States with obesity have arthritis.

While these risk factors may increase the likelihood of developing arthritis in the fingers, they do not guarantee that an individual will develop the condition. Conversely, the absence of these risk factors does not guarantee immunity from arthritis.

It is not possible to completely prevent arthritis in the fingers. However, people can take steps to reduce the risk or delay its onset.

According to the CDC, this includes:

  • Maintaining a healthy weight: Excess weight can put extra pressure on the joints and contribute to the development of arthritis. Eating a balanced diet and engaging in regular physical activity can help manage weight and support joint health.
  • Doing regular exercise: Strong muscles provide better support and stability to the joints, reducing the risk of injury and potentially slowing down the progression of arthritis. People may wish to focus on exercises that promote joint flexibility, such as stretching and range-of-motion exercises for the fingers.
  • Protecting the hands and fingers: It is best to take precautions during activities that put the fingers at risk of injury. For example, using protective gloves or equipment can help minimize the risk of joint trauma when participating in sports or engaging in manual labor.
  • Speaking with a doctor: Early diagnosis and treatment can help people delay the progression of arthritis in the fingers and improve their quality of life.

The CDC suggest that people contact a healthcare professional if they notice any of the symptoms of arthritis in their fingers or elsewhere in the body.

According to the Arthritis Foundation, prompt and effective diagnosis and treatment can help preserve joint function and prevent other potential health problems.

Starting treatment as soon as possible can help manage inflammation, relieve symptoms, and reduce the risk of joint destruction.

While there is currently no cure for arthritis, advances in medical treatments and interventions have improved outcomes for many individuals.

With proper management, including medication, physical therapy, joint protection techniques, and lifestyle modifications, individuals with arthritis in the fingers can lead active and fulfilling lives.

People can work closely with healthcare professionals to develop a personalized treatment plan that meets their needs and goals.

Arthritis resources

To discover more evidence-based information and resources for arthritis, visit our dedicated hub.

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Many types of arthritis can affect the fingers, including osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Some common causes include repetitive motions, injury to the finger joints, and obesity.

Risk factors, such as smoking, atypical joint alignment, and a family history of arthritis, may also make a person more likely to develop arthritis in the fingers.

While there is currently no cure, people can take steps to slow the rate of arthritis development and manage their symptoms.