Pinkies Feel Still And Painful? It's Probably Rheumatoid Arthritis And Not Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal tunnel is one of the problems some people experience when they perform repetitive tasks with their hands and wrists, such as gardening or sewing. But if you currently experience pain and stiffness only in your pinky, or little, fingers, you may wonder if you should be worried about something else instead. Pinky pain and stiffness aren't associated with carpal tunnel syndrome, which only causes issues in your thumbs and other fingers. Instead, other problems may cause your painful, stiff pinkies, including rheumatoid arthritis, or RA. Here are things to know about your pinkies and rheumatoid arthritis, and what you can do to ease their pain and stiffness.

How Does RA Affect Your Pinkies?

Rheumatoid arthritis tends to affect the smallest joints in your hands and feet, so it often shows up in your pinky fingers first. Unlike other types of arthritis conditions, which generally develop from wear and tear in the joints, RA forms when your immune system attacks the linings, or tissues, that cover your joints. The linings tend to swell up with inflammation that causes pain and stiffness in your joints.

The inflamed tissues eventually deteriorate or weaken, which changes the shapes and sizes of the joints. For example, your pinkies might appear "lumpy or bumpy," or they may look crooked when you try to spread out your fingers. Your other fingers will eventually look swollen, puffy and red as the inflammation spreads to other joints in the hands. 

One of the ways to find out if you have RA and treat it is to see an orthopedic or a hand specialist like those at Town Center Orthopaedic Associates for care.

What Can You Do About RA?

An orthopedist or a hand doctor will generally examine your pinkies to see if they have the signs and symptoms mentioned above. If your pinkies do appear to have rheumatoid arthritis, a doctor may perform other tests to verify your condition, including blood tests. Blood tests may reveal that you have higher than normal C-reactive proteins in your body, which your liver produces in response to inflammation.  

If the exam and tests reveal RA, a doctor may prescribe inflammatory medications to help ease your pain and stiffness. You may also visit a therapist who'll teach you exercises to improve the mobility and functions of all of your body's joints. RA has the potential to affect the joints in your neck, back, hips, and feet, so learning how to manage your current pain may help you overcome any obstacles you might face in the future.

For more information about your pinky pain and RA, contact an orthopedic doctor today.