What Causes Knuckle Pain?


Knuckles are the joints that connect the fingers to the hands. They are necessary for fluid finger and hand movements. Common, everyday activities, such as holding a spoon, answering a phone or even ringing a doorbell would be difficult or impossible without the proper use of knuckles. When there is pain in the knuckles, an individual’s capacity to function normally is inhibited.


Fractures occur when a large amount of pressure is applied to a bone and the bone cracks. Fractures are common among children and the elderly, largely because bones are either still developing or are beginning to deteriorate and become brittle. Pain in the knuckles can be caused by a fracture of or near the knuckles. This will cause swelling, pain, bleeding and possibly dislocation of joints and bones.

Felty Syndrome

Felty syndrome is a rare form of rheumatoid arthritis. It has many symptoms, including weightless, mouth infection, anemia, swollen lymph nodes and joint discomfort and pain. People who may have Felty syndrome may experience any or all of the wide range of symptoms. Because joint pain or deformity is common, the knuckles may also be affected by Felty syndrome.


Gout is a form of rheumatism and is considered extremely painful. Gout is caused when tiny, crystal-like deposits of uric acid build up in joint spaces and connective tissues. If the uric acid crystals develop and collect in the joint spaces and connective tissues near the knuckles, the result will be severe pain, difficulty moving the knuckles and swelling, burning, stiffness and inflammation. Uric acid crystals are transported by the blood and obese or overweight people are more likely to develop gout.


Joints contain cartilage. As some people age, the cartilage in the joints begins to deteriorate, resulting in a condition called osteoarthritis. Cartilage makes it easier for bones to slide and move. For example, the knuckles are where the metacarpals and phalanges meet. The cartilage in this area makes it easy for the two bones to glide without rubbing against one another. When cartilage degenerates because of osteoarthritis, the bones rub and grind against one another, causing mild to severe knuckle pain.

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