How to ease arthritis in middle finger

Updated April 17, 2017

Arthritis in the middle finger affects the articular cartilage in the two interphalangeal between knuckle and finger tip joints, according to rheumatologist, Dr. Nathan Wei, in his article Arthritis Finger on The cartilage in either middle finger joint degenerates over time and increases friction between the finger bones. This can cause the swelling, inflammation and pain. Rheumatoid arthritis (affects lining of joints) usually starts in the middle finger. Easing arthritis in the middle finger usually entails a combination of treatments, including rest, immobilisation, ice, heat, medication and exercise.

Rest your finger as much as possible the first few days after the onset of arthritis symptoms. Wear a finger splint or brace to limit movement.

Take two to four ibuprofen pills every four to six hours until your inflammation and pain are gone.

Fill an ice pack or towel with ice. Strap or tie the ice pack or towel around your middle finger. Keep the ice pack or towel compressed against your middle finger for 15 to 20 minutes. Repeat the ice treatment every three to four hours.

Once the initial inflammation has subsided, soak your finger in a bowl or very warm water for 15 to 20 minutes. Repeat several times throughout the day.

Once your inflammation and pain are under control, make a loose fist with your affected hand. Slowly open your hand and stretch your fingers out. Hold that position for five seconds, then slowly clench your fingers into a fist and hold it for five seconds. Repeat 10 times.


Make sure you start applying the ice during the first 48 hours after the onset of arthritis symptoms Ice causes vasoconstriction (narrowing of blood vessels), which controls inflammation and pain by limiting the flow of blood and lymph fluid to the middle finger joints. It also helps to keep your finger elevated above your heart during icing and throughout the day. Once your swelling and inflammation have subsided after a few days, heat will promote blood flow to your middle finger interphalangeal joints. Blood brings oxygen and nutrients (i.e. vitamin C) to the affected area which are necessary for healing. Exercise can also increase blood flow to the joint. Stretching increases flexibility and mobility in the fingers. You can also squeeze a tennis ball to increase strength in your finger muscles, which takes pressure off the interphalangeal joints.


You should never apply ice directly against your skin as this can cause a frostbite injury. Also, do not start any finger exercises until the ice and ibuprofen have helped reduce the initial inflammation, swelling and pain. Exercising too soon can exacerbate your middle finger arthritis symptoms.

Things You'll Need

  • Ice
  • Ice pack
  • Finger brace or splint
  • Bowl or very warm water
  • Ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin)
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