We often crackle our knuckles. Seldom do we realize the importance of our knuckles unless there is some problem with it. Knuckle is an important joint of our hand. It connects the fingers with our hand. In medical parlance it is called metacarpophalangeal joint.
The base of finger is formed of knuckle joint. It is the joint where the phalanges (finger bone) meet the metacarpal bones. The joint is formed of bones, ligaments and connective tissues. Knuckle helps your finger to bend and straighten.
Knuckles are susceptible to get injured or infected as the joint is stressed and utilized in almost all the activities that we do.Infection in knuckle can cause swelling, stiffness and pain. Patient finds difficult to grip an object as the finger is unable to bend due to infected knuckle joint.
Causes Of Infection In Knuckle Joint
Infection in knuckle joint can occur due to host of causes. Any injury or damage to any part of knuckle joint can give rise to knuckle infection. Knuckle infection is limited to a single knuckle or several fingers depending on the infective pathology.
- Cuts and bruises over the knuckle can lead to knuckle infection. The contaminated wound may allow the disease causing germs to enter in the knuckle joint and form an abscess. This may lead to pain, inflammation and pus formation. Patient may be unable to move his finger due to stiffness. The most common germ which may be involved is staphylococcus aureus.
- Osteomyelitis is an infection in the bone. More often osteomyelitis can be due to staphylococcus germs. However, sometimes tubercle bacilli are also responsible for osteomyelitis. But in knuckle joint it is not very common.
- Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic autoimmune disease and it can also infect knuckle joint, together with many other joints in the body.
- Gonococcal knuckle infection is common complication of untreated gonococcus infection. Gonococcus is a sexually transmitted disease.
- Warts over the knuckle joint may get infected. It is often seen among people who use unsterilized objects to cut the warty growth. Infection can spread in the joint and produce symptoms of pain and stiffness.
Knuckle Infection Symptoms
- Pain: Any infective pathology in the knuckle will produce pain. Pain in knuckle can be sharp and excruciating. It can be throbbing depending on the cause. The area over the affected knuckle may become warm and red.
- Swelling: The infected knuckle area will become swollen and red. In case of rheumatoid arthritis, all or many finger knuckles may become swollen at the same time.
- Stiffness: The patient finds difficulty to grip any object as a result of stiffness in the knuckle. Fingers are unable to bend or become straight.
- There may be burning and tingling sensation associated with other symptoms.
- Fever and other systemic symptoms such as body ache and headache may also be present in some cases.
Home Remedies For Knuckle Infection
The main aim is to reduce pain, stiffness and swelling in the infected knuckle, till you are able to determine the exact cause. Meanwhile following home remedies will help to relieve the symptoms:
- Take a bowl of water. Add one teaspoon of salt in it. Preferably warm water is better. Now soak your fingers and knuckles in the bowl for few minutes. Salt helps to alleviate pain and stiffness.
- If it is an abscess, you may require incision and drainage. Consult a doctor for the incision and drainage. Do not try it yourself as this may lead to more severe complications.
- Massage your knuckles with mustard oil, if the cause is rheumatoid arthritis. It relieves pain and helps to reduce stiffening.
- Alternative cure is homeopathy. There are medicines such as Bryonia and Ruta which help to reduce swelling and pain caused in knuckle infection.
- Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics if there is pus formation in the knuckle joint.