• Infectious arthritis. Also called septic arthritis, infectious arthritis refers to arthritis that is caused by an infection within the joint. Infectious arthritis is often caused by bacteria that spread through the bloodstream to the joint. Sometimes it is caused by viruses or fungi and can affect the joints of the hands.

Learn more about septic arthritis from the National Library of Medicine. 

  • Raynaud's phenomenon. Raynaud’s phenomenon is a condition characterized by a narrowing of the blood vessels to the extremities, usually the hands, in response to cold temperatures or stress. When blood vessels close down, fingers become cold and white, then blue, and numb or painful. When the vessels open up again, the hands become red or purple. Raynaud’s is often associated with connective tissue diseases, notably scleroderma.

Learn about the connection between Raynaud's and alcohol and smoking.

  • Osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a condition in which the bones lose enough mass that they become brittle and prone to breaking with slight trauma. The bones of the wrist are among those most commonly fractured in people with osteoporosis. The condition can occur with aging, inflammatory disease (such as rheumatoid arthritis) inactivity, a low-calcium diet or use of corticosteroid medications.

Find out if you are at risk for osteoporosis.

Find answers to your questions about osteoporosis.

  • Carpal tunnel syndrome. This condition occurs when the median nerve, a nerve that runs from the forearm into the hand and supplies sensation to the palm and thumb side of the hand, becomes compressed within the carpal tunnel in the wrist. The carpal tunnel is a narrow passageway formed by bones and a ligament, through which the median nerve and several tendons run. If there is swelling within the tunnel, the nerve can become compressed, resulting in pain, weakness, and/or numbness in the hand and wrist, radiating up the arm.

Read more about carpal tunnel syndrome.

Learn more about carpal tunnel syndrome from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

  • Scleroderma. Literally translated "hard skin," scleroderma is an umbrella term for disorders that involve the abnormal growth of the connective tissue supporting the skin and internal organs. Although there are several different forms of scleroderma, all can cause thickening and tightening of the skin on the fingers called sclerodactyly. This can make it harder to bend or straighten the fingers.
  • Dermatomyositis. Dermatomyositis is an inflammatory muscle disease that often has a severe onset. Symptoms can include muscle pain and weakness, joint pain, skin rash, changes around the beds of the fingernails and roughening and cracking of the skin on the palms and fingertips, often referred to as Mechanic's hands.

Read more about dermatomyositis from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

  • Dupuytren’s contracture.  Dupuytren's contracture, sometimes called Dupuytren's disease, is an abnormal thickening of the fascia, a flat band of tissue beneath the skin, in the palm of the hand. This can lead to the development of firm cords and lumps that cause the fingers to bend toward the palm. The ring and little finger are most commonly affected.  The disease, which occurs primarily in men older than age 40 of European descent, less commonly affects the fascia on the soles of the feet.

Read more about Dupuytren's contracture from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

  • Ganglion cysts. Ganglion cysts are lumps that form next to the joints or tendons in the hand and wrist. The most common locations are the joints at the base of the fingers (metacarpophalangeal joint or MCP), joints closest to the nail (distal phalangeal joint or DP), the top of the wrist and the palm side of the wrist. These cysts can occur in people of any age, they may come and go for no apparent reason, and they may or may not be painful.

Learn more about ganglion cysts from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

  • Stenosing tenosynovitis (trigger finger). This condition, also known as trigger finger, occurs when the pulley (one of the rings connective tissue that hold tendons of the fingers close to the bone) at the base of a finger or thumb thickens, constricting the tendon that enables the finger to move. This can cause popping, pain or a catching feeling in the finger or thumb. In some cases, repeated use can worsen inflammation and make it difficult to straighten or bend the finger.

Learn more about trigger finger from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.