Knuckle pain can occur in any or all fingers. It can be very uncomfortable and make everyday tasks more difficult.

Knowing the cause of knuckle pain can help you find methods of pain relief so you are able to do the things you’re used to doing.

Knuckle pain can feel like stiffness in the joints, making it difficult to move or bend your fingers. You might experience pain when moving these joints. The pain may be accompanied by swelling and redness. Some people experience a dull aching pain, even when not using their hands.

The most common cause of knuckle pain is arthritis. Arthritis is a disease that causes inflammation of the joints, including the knuckles. This inflammation can result in pain, stiffness, and swelling.

A person with arthritis usually feels pain with active use of their hands followed by a dull ache afterward.

Other causes may be:

  • Injury. Any type of injury, such as a dislocation, that causes a lot of pain should be treated immediately.
  • Tendonitis. Tendonitis is a swelling of the stretchy bands that help your fingers to move. It causes pain around a joint.
  • Mixed connective tissue disease. Joint pain in the hands is one of the early symptoms of mixed connective tissue disease.
  • Scleroderma. Also known as systemic sclerosis, scleroderma can cause joint pain, swelling, and limited movement of the fingers.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis. This is a common connective tissue disorder that can affect the knuckles.
  • Gout. Although uncommon, gout can result in pain and swelling of the knuckle.
  • Infection. An infection can also cause pain and swelling in the knuckle.

There’s no one treatment for relieving knuckle pain. Consult with your doctor about pain relief techniques such as:

  • Ice. Applying ice to sore knuckles can help reduce swelling and pain.
  • Medication. Taking an over-the-counter pain reliever such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) can help ease pain.
  • Vitamin C. A 2017 study suggests that vitamin C may reduce pain in joints.
  • Surgery. In severe cases, surgery to repair the damage in the joints of the knuckles may be necessary, but this isn’t common.

Taking care of your joints can help to prevent future knuckle pain. This includes:

  • Exercise. Proper exercise can ensure your hands are strong and resilient.
  • Protection. Wear gloves when appropriate to protect your knuckles.
  • Proper nutrition. Diets rich in calcium, vitamin D, and vitamin C can help keep your joints healthy.

Knuckle pain often doesn’t have an easy fix. Arthritis, the most common cause of knuckle pain, is a chronic condition that can be managed but not cured.

Taking care of your joints and treating the symptoms of knuckle pain can help to reduce its effect on your daily life.