Q. My wife is 28 years old and is suffering from finger pain, which increases during winter. If she dips her finger in cold water the fingers start paining and at that time hot water gives some relief. What is the exact cause of her problem?
Pain in any area of the body can mean trouble, but finger pain can be especially vexing because we depend upon our hands for so many daily tasks. Finger pain can be caused by Raynaud's phenomenon, in which the blood vessels of the hands and feet narrow when exposed to cold temperatures, sometimes causing pain in the hands fingers, feet and toes. Raynaud's is more common in women and may first appear between the ages of 20 and 50 (in your case). Raynaud's may appear alone or be part of a more serious disease such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, scleroderma or other types of vasculitis. Raynaud's doesn’t cause cold hands and feet, however; it is triggered by exposure to cold or stress.
Exposure to cold causes blanching and pain in the extremities of individuals with Raynaud's. Their hands and feet may even appear abnormal after exposure to cold - they look white, then blue, then red. This occurs in reaction to the blood vessels in the extremities becoming constricted (narrowed) and then taking awhile to dilate (widen).
She should wear warm gloves, socks and shoes in cold weather.
Finger pain brought on by Raynaud's phenomenon may require a calcium channel blocker. One type of medication that is helpful is an over-the-counter topical pain cream that contains capsaicin along with capsule Proxyvon thrice a day. Aspirin also improves blood circulation. Heated wax treatment applied by a physical therapist also can relieve pain and temporarily loosen up stiff fingers.
Once severe pain is diminished, gently exercise the fingers by stretching them every 10 minutes while you work, squeezing a rubber ball. Move the fingers in warm water to increase circulation and decrease stiffness. Be careful not to overuse your hands and fingers, on the job or at play.
Do consult a physician or rheumatologist to rule out a serious condition, such as a major circulatory problem or a connective tissue disease such as rheumatoid arthritis or scleroderma.