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The Causes and Solutions to Swollen Fingers in the Morning

Updated on December 21, 2016
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Trained in dentistry, Sree is currently studying lab sciences. She enjoys researching various health topics and writing about her findings.

Waking up in the morning can feel refreshing, unless it's spoiled by swollen fingers. The condition makes it challenging for you to start your day with an enthusiastic spirit. It’s a great thing that it comes with a cure.

The person suffering from swollen fingers cannot do his or her usual morning rituals such as bathing, cooking, eating breakfast, or brushing his or her teeth. Since he experiences difficulty in accomplishing the most basic tasks, he ends up feeling helpless. It causes inconvenience, which leads to frustrations.

If it continues into the later part of the morning, swollen hands get in the way of work. This is especially true in jobs that require dexterity or extensive hand manipulation. Not only will it affect the way of accomplishing tasks, it can bring negative effects on a person’s concentration, as well. If the goal is to perform well at work, having swollen fingers is a major downside.

The causes and severity of this condition vary. Therefore, it is important for both the person suffering from this condition as well as their doctor to pinpoint the exact cause of the swelling before treating.

It is a must to get treatment before the condition exacerbates. It may not seem worrisome to others, since the effects can subside given time, but it necessitates immediate attention. If left untreated, it can result to a severe problem.

Regardless of the cause for swelling, there are a couple of things you can do to start relieving it right away:

  • Elevate your hands above your heart for an extended period
  • Ice your hands since the cold can get your blood going
  • Perform hand exercises to get your muscles moving
  • Give yourself a hand massage or have someone rub your hands

If unrelieved despite the attempts of treatment, it's best to ask a doctor for help. Instead of letting matters be all up to you, it's practical to have an expert take a look at the condition of your fingers. For all you know, your attempts might only worsen the problem.

It's important to consult a medical professional for advice, if the swelling persists. One of the possibilities of swollen fingers is the inability of wearing a ring. The swelling can affect your finger significantly, and if it does, it can cause a huge inconvenience.

Below are some possible causes for swollen fingers in the morning as well as some advice on how to get rid of it.

Reducing Swollen Fingers: Hand Massage and Other Tips

Possible Causes of Swelling


This is a common cause of swollen fingers, and it comes in many forms. These include:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis, which is the most common form of arthritis. It is an autoimmune disease that causes finger joints to swell. Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis is basically the children's version of rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Osteoarthritis, a condition that develops when the cartilage degenerates. It is more frequently suffered by elderly people.
  • Psoriatic arthritis also causes swelling in the finger joints due to the chronic skin disease, psoriasis.
  • Pseudo-gout is similar to gout, where urea crystals accumulate in the joints and cause swelling.
  • Cervical or neck spondylosis is a form of arthritis that affects the neck more, but it can creep through the fingers.

Diagnosis and Treatment:Arthritis can be treated without medication. Usually applying something hot or cold can help loosen up the joint. Using hot and cold therapy is popular as an effective treatment method. It can make a huge difference by soothing the pain and discomfort of swollen fingers.

Hot treatment methods such as bathing in warm water, using an electric blanket, and using a heating pad ease stiffness and loosen joints. Using a gel ice bag and other cold treatment methods, on the other hand, provide quick joint relief.

If not, some over-the-counter or prescription medications can provide relief. Search drug stores for corticosteroids, analgesics, and other anti-inflammatory drugs.

Alongside, note that swollen fingers and arthritis may be due to an unhealthy lifestyle. Perform a self-evaluation, and assess whether you're eating balanced meals and getting adequate exercise. If you're not, a lifestyle change can improve your situation.

High-Sodium Diet or Poor Diet

Many people eat too much salt without even knowing it. The excess salt causes your body to retain water. The tricky part? They’re not exactly salty. Among the list of foods that are swimming in salt includes pancakes, chicken breasts, and frozen vegetables. These foods increase blood pressure, which heighten your risk of developing ailments in the heart.

Overeating can also cause a variety of problems. Eating too much (and eating even when you are full) causes swollen fingers and other severe diseases. Gaining weight puts your muscles under loads of pressure, so it’s best to get your weight under control immediately. The danger is double with unhealthy foods.

Diagnosis and Treatment: Be mindful of your nutrient intake. Try changing your diet, being especially wary of processed foods, restaurant food, sauces, and dressings. Junk foods are not good for you, either. As soon as possible, alter your high-sodium diet to healthy one.


This is another common cause of swollen fingers. If you use your hands frequently in strenuous activities such as lifting, heavy exercise or repetitive motions at work, you could suffer from swelling and tendonitis. Exposure to an overwhelming amount of stress can take its toll on your body. Remember, your body needs occasional breaks, so if you fail to give in, the stress can take its toll on you by letting you wake up with swollen fingers.

Extreme weather conditions will heighten the symptoms of overuse. Avoid exposing yourself to uncomfortable surroundings since it can exacerbate your condition. If it’s too hot or it’s too cold, bring in the necessary gears (if fleeing an environment is unpractical). A fan or a cold drink can help you handle too much heat. If it’s too cold, you can wear a jacket or gloves.

Diagnosis and Treatment: Try wearing a brace, building a new work set-up, or doing hand stretches throughout the day. are effective ways of treating swollen fingers. Make sure to get sufficient rest, too. Simple exercises that don’t put stress on your joints for a prolonged period are the solution.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Though swelling is not the main symptom of carpal tunnel syndrome (usually it's tingling or numbness in the hands), it can be one of them. People who spend a lot of time typing frequently suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome. Gamers are usually among the common ones affected by the condition.

CTS is a bit scary, especially if it's severe. Due to pressure in your wrist's median nerve, you suffer from the condition. The culprits can also be underlying illnesses such as diabetes and hypothyroidism.

CTS can also affect the other parts of the upper arm such as the wrists, forearm, and elbows. Most often, the symptoms occur in the index finger, thumb, middle finger, and ring finger. A sign that you're suffering from the condition is that your little finger is fine despite the bad conditions of your other fingers.

It is a must to treat a mild case of CTS. Since it can worsen if left untreated, the condition can lead to permanent nerve damage in your wrist. If you let the condition affect you, you may be unable to use your fingers and wrist.

Diagnosis and Treatment: Merely shaking your hand can provide immediate relief. Wearing a wrist splint during the day or at night, steroid treatment, or surgery may be required to treat CTS. The solution depends on the severity of a case. Consulting a doctor for advice is best.

Trauma and Injuries

Hand or finger injuries, including cuts and burns, can often cause swelling. Fractures that affect the hands as well as injuries to the median, ulnar, and brachial plexus nerves (located through the arm and hand, the forearms, and the neck and shoulders) will also cause swelling.

Involvement in an accident, where you sustained injuries on your hands (or even just near them), can cause swelling in your fingers as well. This reaction occurs due to the damaged nerve that is connected to your fingers. In such a case, the problem can subside once your injuries heal.

Diagnosis and Treatment: Trauma varies widely - from mild cases (that heal after a few days) to severe cases (that may require months or years to fully heal). For mild cases, general remedies may work. Cuts and burns will need bandages and anti-bacterial ointment to prevent infection.

If the trauma is serious, gets infected, or worsens, you should see a doctor. Since the injuries can only exacerbate this way, avoid treating them without professional medical advice.

Peripheral Neuropathy & Diabetic Neuropathy

Peripheral Neuropathy occurs if nerves malfunction due to damages. This condition affects the nerves located in the extremities such as the fingers. A major problem with peripheral neuropathy is the confusion it causes your nervous system. Due to the nerve damage in your fingers, signals of pain can be relayed falsely. Sometimes, you may feel pain without a cause. Other times, you may feel pain-free when in fact, your body is in danger.

There is also another kind of neuropathy called diabetic neuropathy, which is caused by diabetes. Commonly, diabetic neuropathy affects your legs and feet. Although the number of cases is relatively low, it also affects your fingers. If you have diabetes, be careful with your selected treatment method, since it can also worsen your disease.

Diagnosis and Treatment: See a doctor. Both conditions are serious and require immediate medical attention. If left untreated, they could exacerbate your swollen fingers by causing other body parts to swell.

Side Effects of Medication

Some medications will cause swelling as a side effect. New medications may be unwelcomed by the body, regardless of their proposed benefits. Especially if you’re suffering from an illness that requires daily medication, your fingers may begin to swell.

Medicine allergies are a common subset of medication-related swelling due to serum sickness. The reaction is an indication that your body disapproves of the intake of particular elements. While the swelling can subside eventually, there’s a possibility that your body will act out if you continue to take the same medications.

In many cases, swelling as a side effect of medication, is temporary. After about an hour, your fingers will return to their normal condition.

Diagnosis and Treatment: Consult a doctor to see if you should change or reduce medications. He might also suggest alternatives, and help you cope with the reactions.

Poor Sleep Posture

The way you're sleeping could be affecting your fingers. If your bed isn't level or if you sleep with your wrists bent, you may be causing your fingers to swell. Due to your sleeping position, you might be disrupting blood circulation around your fingers or around your wrist. This causes numbness in nearby regions, too.

Since you're asleep, you won't feel any discomfort even if blood circulation is partially blocked. It's only upon waking up that you'll realize the pressure you put on your fingers and wrist. You may feel a lot of pain, too.

Diagnosis and Treatment: Fortunately, you can get quick relief from swollen fingers due to poor sleep posture. For some time, elevate your hands above your heart to restore circulation. If that doesn’t work, place a block of ice on top of the affected area. You can perform simple hand exercises, too. This gets your body moving and will help you deal with the discomfort.

Try wearing a brace at night to prevent poor wrist posture during sleep. If possible, switch to a sleeping position that doesn’t put pressure on your wrist and fingers. If the problem persists, you should consult a doctor.

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Lack of appropriate nutrients can cause degeneration of muscles, joints, and nerves and lead to swelling. Insufficient amounts of carbohydrates and B vitamins, particularly vitamin B12, will cause swelling in the fingers due to degeneration.

Deficiency in these nutrients will not only cause swelling in your fingers, but can cause pain as well. If it has been more than 5 days that you keep waking up with swollen fingers, seek medical attention. If you refuse to get immediate treatment, the swelling could lead to further complications. Eventually, you’ll feel lethargic, dizzy, and nauseated.

Diagnosis and Treatment: Consider taking dietary supplements to make up for the lack of nutrition. Better yet, See a doctor to find out how you need to change your diet.

Organ Failure

Liver and kidney failure can cause swollen fingers. The two aforementioned organs are responsible for filtering body fluids. If either or both organs fail, water will accumulate in the finger joints. Your fingers will swell and become puffy.

The hepatic and renal systems are very important. By maintaining the purity of body fluids, they serve vital roles for your body. Damages to these organs are quite dangerous and could result to a fatal condition.

Diagnosis and Treatment: See a doctor. Avoid self-medicating since you might worsen your condition. Only after seeking professional medical advice should you start treatment.

Chronic Diseases

Chronic ailments such as lupus not only cause swollen fingers, but much worse symptoms such as skin rashes and swollen lymph nodes. These diseases can also cause accumulation of fluids in the finger joints. With a chronic ailment, your fingers may be in a bad condition.

If you're suffering from a chronic disease, it can be difficult to treat swollen fingers. Especially if you have to take different medications, the effects of these medications can further complicate the problem.

Diagnosis and Treatment: See a doctor. Consult a medical professional who specializes in the treatment of your disease. The downside to suffering from a chronic disease is that you’re in it for the long haul. While the disease won’t go away, you can effectively manage its symptoms.


Infections such as paronychia, a skin condition of the fingernails; cellulitis, a bacterial skin infection; and osteomyelitis, a bone disease, will all cause swelling as the immune system tries to fight the sources of these infections.

There are many causes for finger infections. Among these are puncture wounds, picking hangnails, deep cuts, and aggressive nail cutting. This is why the importance of an anti-bacterial solution shouldn’t be undermined. At the first sight of an open wound (no matter the size), the most practical approach is to clean.

Diagnosis and Treatment: See a doctor. Especially if you’re uncertain of the cause of your swollen fingers, it’s best for a medical professional to evaluate your condition. While treatment with an over-the-counter drug seems convenient, your fingers’ condition can worsen if you take the wrong medication.

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Anxiety can cause swollen and shaky fingers. At the sight of these fingers, your tendency to panic can worsen. This results to an even bigger problem.

One cause of anxiety is the excessive intake of caffeine. If you have anxiety, you shouldn’t drink coffee or other high-energy drinks. Otherwise, your fingers’ condition will become worse. This is due to the heightened levels in your brain.

Diagnosis and Treatment: See a doctor. Instead of immediately resorting to anti-anxiety medications, ask the advice of a professional. While anti-anxiety medications are easily available in drug stores, it’s best to ask how to treat swollen fingers per se.

Multiple Sclerosis

Having Multiple Sclerosis, or MS, is another cause of swollen fingers. The disease involves your body wreaking havoc on your immune system.

This condition affects the entire nervous system. It's a degenerative disease that causes life-threatening challenges. It can lead to loss of balance, coordination, and strength, which can eventually result to eventual paralysis.

MS comes with other dangers, too. It not only affects the fingers, but also hinders judgment, emotional control, movement, balance, and speech in an affected person. The most practical thing to do is to prevent the exacerbation of symptoms.

In some cases, if a person with MS is under loads of stress, he might experience a worse case of the condition. His option may only be taking pain relievers to ease the severe discomfort.

Diagnosis and Treatment: See a doctor. Since MS is a disease that affects the nervous system, a neurologist is the medical professional to consult. Unfortunately, since there is no known treatment for the disease, he might suggest relaxation tips. Either that, or he’ll prescribe medication that alleviate the pain.


This is a condition characterized by collagen that accumulates in the fingers' tissues and joints, hardening them. It literally means hard skin and it's an autoimmune chronic disease. If you have sausage-like fingers that are oddly shiny, you might have Scleroderma.

Scleroderma can be severe, and its severity varies from one person to another. The condition could simply be mild, and cause little inconvenience. Since it's chronic, it's among those diseases that could affect you permanently.

Diagnosis and Treatment: See a doctor. Since Scleroderma is quite unpredictable, cases could improve or worsen. Unfortunately, the cause of the condition remains unknown. The doctor may prescribe medications to ease swollen fingers.

Panic Attacks

Panic attacks have many forms. They have devastating effects to physical and mental health. In some severe panic attacks, a person's joints may become very stiff and painful to move.

A person who experiences a panic attack may appear fine. On the inside, however, he might be in pain – lots of it. Usually, when his stressor is out of sight, his situation improves.

Diagnosis and Treatment: See a doctor. Especially if the case of experiencing panic attacks is severe, approaching a medical professional can significantly treat the condition.

In some cases, a psychotherapist will assist you if you have severe panic attacks. He'll gently help you deal with stressors or any past traumatic event.


This condition is generally caused by acute stress. Because the affected person cannot breathe normally, his or her fingers do not respond properly. The effect could temporarily disable a person from functioning normally.

A person who is hyperventilating tends to exhibit rapid breathing patterns. Hyperventilation occurs for about 35-30 minutes. If the abnormal breathing pattern lasts longer than usual, it's an indication of a problem. The heart starts to beats dangerously fast and the muscles twitch.

Worst case scenario? If his body is unable to handle the irregularity in the system, he may pass out. Since the stressors are too overwhelming, the brain insists on taking a break.

Diagnosis and Treatment: See a doctor. Especially if you keep passing out every time you hyperventilate, consulting an expert can help with managing the condition. He may prescribe medications for immediate relief during these attacks.

You can also open up a paper bag. Make sure to cover (loosely) your mouth and nose with it. breathe and rebreathe the air in it for about 15 minutes.

Angioedema or Angioneurotic Edema

This is a skin condition characterized by swelling beneath the surface of the skin. Generally it affects the underlying skin layers of the eyes, lips, and ears, though it can also affect the fingers. It's often caused by an allergic reaction.

Apart from the swelling in your fingers, you could also feel burning sensations. For a period, your swollen fingers will feel itchy. In spite of the itch, remain calm. Scratching the itch can worsen the condition.

Fortunately, treatment for angioedema is available. The list of suggested medications includes anti-histamines, corticosteroids, and tricyclic anti-depressants.

Diagnosis and Treatment: See a doctor. The condition can worsen, and from swollen fingers, it can affect your gastrointestinal and respiratory systems. If it progresses, you are facing a life-threatening challenge.

Once you detect angioedema, consult a medical professional immediately. He’ll help you with effective management, and aim for the better control of swelling.


This condition should not be confused with tetanus, as it is a mineral imbalance disorder that can cause cramping and twitching in the hands. A frustrating part about the muscle twitches is their involuntary nature. Sometimes, it can be very difficult to control your muscles. Having the condition can cause a major hindrance when accomplishing physical activities.

Dramatically low levels of calcium, potassium, and magnesium can cause your organs to function improperly. Thus, tetany can accompany vomiting, seizures, and convulsions. It can also result to extreme pain and a serious heart dysfunction.

Diagnosis and Treatment: See a doctor. You can easily treat the condition by making sure that you’re eating healthy meals, getting enough sleep, and eliminating stressors. Ask the advice of a medical professional to avoid the condition’s severity.

Insect Bites and Stings

Bites or stings can cause swelling of the skin, especially if they're on or near the fingers.

Alongside, they can cause an intense burning sensation. In many cases, the swelling and the burning subsides after a few minutes or hours. If it doesn't subside naturally, taking anti-histamine tablets or applying a steroid cream is a suggested option.

A disadvantage of bites and stings is that they could lead to serious allergic reactions. After a bite or a sting, you can experience severe itchiness, stomach aches, and a rapid heart rate.

The list of common insects to watch out for includes mites, bedbugs, ticks, and flies. Most of the time, the injuries they cause may seem harmless. But, you should have them checked since they could carry life-threatening diseases.

Diagnosis and Treatment: Use ice and elevation to reduce swelling, and a topical antihistamine for itching. If the problem persists, you should see a doctor.

Low Blood Sugar or Hypoglycemia

This condition is caused by the body's attempt to produce the stimulant epinephrine as a replacement for blood sugar. It can cause shaky and swollen fingers.

If you're hyperglycemic, you may experience numbness, a rapid heartbeat, nausea, and cold sensations apart from swollen fingers. You may also experience irritability, blurred vision, dizziness, extreme hunger, and exhaustion.

Once you take glucose to restore normal blood sugar levels, you'll slowly get relief. Feeling better having a beverage or a snack is an apparent indication that you were hyperglycemic.

Diagnosis and Treatment: See a doctor. especially if your swollen fingers due to the condition are worsening. A severe case of hypoglycemia requires immediate attention since could lead to a coma. Prolonged hypoglycemia can result to irreversible brain damage.


This is a skin condition that occurs when the hands are exposed to too much cold, causing skin and tissues to freeze. As your body's natural response to signs of oxygen deprivation, your blood vessels start to constrict, and prioritize the delivery of available oxygen to your vital organs. The downside is that it causes cell damage.

Frostbite occurs due to extremely cold weather conditions. if you regularly work outdoors (in cold environments), the chances of frostbite are high. Upon exposure to temperatures below the freezing point, be mindful of your fingers, as well as your nose, cheeks, ears, feet, and toes.

Diagnosis and Treatment: The first thing to do when you experience frostbite or symptoms of it is to evacuate to a warm region or a sheltered place. Change your clothes, and make sure that you're not wearing anything cold or wet.

Protect yourself from any possibility of re-freezing. Remove jewelries of any sort, and wrap yourself with a blanket. If one of your fingers is affected, and is in the process of turning black, cover it with a blanket. Avoid rubbing it, and instead, leave it to dry on its own.

See a doctor. Although it might seem that swollen fingers due to frostbite can improve eventually, avoid undermining the severity of the cell damage. A medical professionally can advise you regarding the practical measures for your situation.

Electrolyte Imbalance

A lack or excess of salt will cause the fingers to go numb and swollen. If you take salty meals around dinner, your blood vessels may start leaking fluids to surrounding tissues. As you sleep (and granted you drank a sufficient amount of water), the salt content may become diluted. This leads to an electrolyte imbalance, or sometimes called, hyponatremia.

Since this condition affected your body overnight, you might not be aware of the problem – until you open your eyes in the morning. Chances are, a nauseated feeling will accompany your swollen fingers.

Diagnosis and Treatment: See a doctor. He might recommend taking supplements to help you regain balance in your system. He might also suggest the avoidance of particular foods, especially at night.

What to Do About Swollen Fingers

General Remedies for Swollen Morning Fingers

If you're experiencing swollen fingers in the morning, try the following remedies. Granted you take steps to alleviate the condition, the swelling can subside.

If your symptoms persist or get worse, please consult a doctor. This could be a sign of a serious medical condition. Having swollen fingers may not alarm you initially, especially if the case is mild, and if doesn't cause pain. In such situations, you may just proceed with your usual daily routine and hope to naturally recover a few hours later.

However, even mild cases of swollen fingers require attention. Otherwise, a seemingly harmless situation can trigger the development of major health conditions. To avoid complications and for the swelling to subside, the following measures are helpful.

  • Drink plenty of water during the day to keep you hydrated; fluids will also help eliminate the toxins that cause swelling
  • Wear of compression gloves can provide relief from cold temperature; while they increase hand mobility, they also reduce swelling, improve blood circulation, and give warmth
  • Do hand exercises; simple exercises like hand stretches and wrist rotations can significantly improve blood circulation
  • Reduce alcohol intake; since it can act like a diuretic, alcohol can cause dehydration
  • Change your diet, focusing on eating vegetables, fruits, and low-sodium foods; an unhealthy diet can cause joint pain, too
  • Take anti-inflammatory medicines; they can provide immediate relief
  • Rest your hands if they are overused or move them if they are not used enough; too much pressure, as well as stagnancy, can weaken the area around your fingers
  • Make sure you are observing good sleep posture; consider sleeping on your back or sideways without putting pressure on your wrist and fingers
  • Exercise; setting aside time for regular workouts can fight some causes of swelling, and improve your overall health
  • Lose weight since obesity can cause edema (swelling) and water retention; be mindful of your daily nutrient intake and make sure that you’re getting the right amount of nutrients


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    • kenneth avery profile image

      Kenneth Avery 2 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      This is a fantastic hub. Very helpful to those of us whose fingers swell and it is very painful.

      Thank you, healthbooklet, for sharing this information. Voted up and all the way.

      Keep the great work coming.

    • profile image

      JParonable 6 months ago

      Thanks for the information, this is a big help.

    • profile image

      Mont 3 months ago

      please look into the last line and edit. You have mentioned "Please make sure that you're not getting the right amount of nutrients"

    • healthbooklet profile image

      Sree Lakshmi 3 months ago

      Thanks Mont, Updated :)

    • profile image

      Gloria H 2 months ago

      Raising my hands over my head seemed to work in reducing swelling. Thanks for the advice.

    • profile image

      Amelia 6 weeks ago

      Sometimes, my blood sugar gets between 350 and 400 and my left hand swells up pretty bad. I am confused as to what is causing this.

    • profile image

      Amelia, 4 weeks ago

      Amelia, see a doctor about your blood sugar levels. Your blood sugar shouldn't be getting that high. Although there are variables, such as your much sugar or carbs you are consuming that effect those readings, unless you are consuming excessive amounts of sugar/carbs, you shouldn't see numbers that high. If you have developed diabetes, left untreated, it can cause significant permanent damage to your body or even death! So please, don't guidance from a doctor asap!!

    • profile image

      Gwendolyn 3 weeks ago

      Good advice.

    • profile image

      bunny 3 weeks ago

      this is a very good article

      helped me a lot;D.

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