Q. I have developed sudden stiffness of the fingers. What could be the reason?

Answered by
Dr. Naval Mendiratta
and medically reviewed by iCliniq medical review team.
This is a premium question & answer published on Jun 27, 2017 and last reviewed on: Nov 05, 2021

Hello doctor,

I am a healthy and active 34 year old female, with the sudden onset of a finger and thumb stiffness, one week ago. It is more like a dull ache. I am wondering what this could be.



Welcome to

  • Well, a sudden onset either looks like a nerve, joint or a blood vessel problem. I would like to ask you a few more queries:
  1. Where exactly is the pain, at the base of the fingers, the tip or all of it?
  2. Do all your fingers hurt or is it only the first and the second?
  3. Did you notice any color changes?
  4. Do you feel tingling and numbness?
  5. Does the pain get worse with activity or at rest?
  6. Does it hurt in the mornings?
  7. Do you have neck pain?
  8. Are you able to form a grip?
  • We need to figure out where exactly the pain is arising from, as the management will change accordingly. I will guide you to further tests upon receiving this information from you.

Revert with more information to a rheumatologist online -->

Thank you doctor,

The pain seems to be along my thumbs from the base joint through the middle joint, and the fingers seem to ache in the middle joint. They just feel stiff when I open and close them, but the thumb has a definite soreness. All the fingers are sore, but the thumb is the worst on both hands. There is no color change, numbness or tingling or neck pain. The pain does not seem better or worse from rest. It does not seem different in the morning versus later in the day. It is a constant dull ache or stiffness and pain along the thumbs, especially when I lift my daughters or open a tight jar, etc. I can form a grip.



Welcome back to

Well, from your history, it does not look like a nerve or blood vessel problem. So, either we are dealing with a joint or tendon problem.

  • Since it is focused near the thumb base and gets worse on lifting your daughter or when opening jars, it could be de Quervain's tenosynovitis, that is, an inflammation of the tendon at that site.
  • It can be confirmed with a Finkelstein's test. You can check about it on the internet, and try it yourself. If it is positive, it will confirm our diagnosis, and accordingly, we can manage the treatment.
  • I suggest a few more tests to rule out inflammation as well:
  1. ESR (erythrocyte sedimentation rate).
  2. CRP (C-reactive protein).
  3. Ultrasound of the hand joints.

Hope the information was useful. Do let me know in case of more queries. Regards.

For more information consult a rheumatologist online -->

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