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What would happen if I forced my finger down when it's stiff and sore and won't bend fully?

This is going to sound strange but have got a kind of irrational desire to force my finger to bend. Its my right forefinger (I'm right handed) and it hasn't bent fully now since last September. I do all my hand exercises daily and the little one on left hand is the same - and a few others are very stiff now despite all the work i do on them. I know it's silly because it's only fingers but it really frustrates me that I can't get to bend all the way - even being fairly forceful. My physio said that if I can't get it to bend soon (and this was before Xmas) then it would never bend properly again. I believe this is due to tendonitis in the knuckles below but haven't quite understood it and have no more physio or GP visits lined up and no rheumy appt or rheumy nurse to ask either so wonder if anyone can tell me. What would actually happen if I forced it down- apart from shed loads of pain that is? Sometimes I think it might be the only way to remedy this problem finger but don't want to do anything completely stupid?

19 Replies

Hi Tilda,

This probably isn't much help to you but I also have a couple of fingers and a thumb that won't bend completely. I have tried to push them down, with much pain in the joints, but they won't stay down, and they really ache afterwards. I had tendonitis in my thumb and had a steroid injection into the tendon sheath which stopped the triggering but my thumb is now quite weak. My OT just told me to keep exercising the thumb and fingers to try and build the strength back up. I do all of my hand and finger exercises daily but it hasn't improved things.

Sorry I'm not of much use, like you i am also really new to this and am learning along the way.

Hope someone else can better answer or advise




Hi Rainie - thanks for that at least it's good to know it's not just me that gets so frustrated. I am not like this all the time and generally have got used to it but sometimes it just makes me feel sort of claustrophobic not to be able to fully bend my fingers still if that makes any sense? My OH understands this actually - he said he would feel the same way and remembered when he couldn't get his wedding ring off anymore because his finger joint has changed shape he got a jeweller friend to saw it off as it made him feel trapped?! I wasn't offended really - and that's how he understands what I feel about this small but frustrating dilemma. Thanks for warning me that it just gets more sore if you try to force it. I thought this was probably so but you know how sometimes people have joints that need clicking back into place with force? - well that's what I was thinking of I suppose.

Lavender Lady - I'm so sorry but I've deleted my question because I put it up twice and then got in a muddle because my broadband turned off so I can see you've replied but can't open it up? Could you bear to resend please. TTx



I completely understand the frustrating part of this.

You mention about people having joints that need clicking back into place, well my toes, hips, neck and fingers are like this. I have to bend my toes quite hard to relieve the ache and once they click the ache goes away but usually not for very long. My neck and hips are the same and you should hear me when I get up out of the chair. I sound like a bowl of rice crispies walking across the floor!!

When I was a teenager I would be constantly 'cracking my knuckles' just for the sake of it and my late Mum would say " If you don't stop doing that Lorraine you will have arthritis in your hands by the time you reach forty!". If she were still alive she would now be saying "what did I tell you" LOL. ( she was only 3 years out with her prediction). The funny thing now is that my baby (15 yr old boy) does exactly the same as I did and it now makes my tummy flip when I hear him doing it!!

One thing I have found that does ease my fingers is if I do my finger exercises in the washing up water or when I go swimming or after a shower (can't take baths for the reason that I can not get up out of the bath even with the newly installed grab rail as my knees are always quite sore and painfull) but still not able to comletely bend the fingers and thumb.

I really don't know if this non-complete bending of fingers is because their has been some damage to the joint or just stiffness, which my Dr confirmed today that you can still have even if their is no inflamattion.




Thanks for that reply Rainie - I read it to my almost 15 (on Weds) year old baby and he's now reading back about knuckle cracking studies relating to arthritis or not as the case may be "wild speculations linking RA and knuckle cracking". He's not impressed by this argument but then nor am I impressed by his one. Babies eh?! Now he's railing on about HU and how much we all wind each other up on here ha ha!

I have same thing as you with my feel but only when I've been resting a lot - mostly first thing in the morning. I get out of bed and as soon as they touch the floor they feel sore and then the various joints crunch back into place as I pad along to the toilet. I think this is why I have assumed from the start of RA that it's better to keep moving around and exercise as much possible otherwise I fear I'll sieze up. Even during the night I'm dancing around the bed so things don't get a chance to lock up or stiffen - it drives my OH mad! TTx


Tilda, I've got exactly the same problem, but with my right ring finger. The whole of my right hand is twice the thickness of the left and the ring finger is bent in a c shape and keeps triggering towards my palm. It doesn't help that my job entails constant minute taking and typing, which makes the problem worse. Soaking the hand in warm water helps a little, but it's dreadfully painful first thing in the morning, and I too keep trying to flatten my hand on my desk at work.

I keep thinking that the medication should be relieving this problem, but it hasn't so far, in fact I'm sure it's getting worse! I too feel panicky when my finger triggers - how on earth people with paralysis cope I do not know!

Trish x


That's interesting Trish. Mine works almost the other way round where I can't bend my fingers in towards my palm easily and when I try I can't get beyond a C shape - my right forefinger won't bend in beyond 45 degrees ever.

If I try to flatten them out they will go out flat if on a table but are sore if I try to stretch them fully without prop. Also my little finger has turned on it's side so the inside faces upwards now - mainly on my right hand but the other little finger is lumpy and always tender and both stick out and won't be fully gathered in together anymore.

I just wonder what is normal and if I'm meant to just accept these changes or whether this means the disease is still active? They aren't nearly as swollen as they were so I'm guessing that this is all just after-effects of active RA - which I'm assuming has been subdued or chased off now by the MTX. I wish my GPs would answer these questions but they just start going on about "it doesn't look like you've got any swan-neck deformities yet so not too bad really" and stuff like that. I wish I had a rheumy nurse or even a rheumy I could ask but my appointment has been postponed due to backlog so won't see one for another 4 months unless I have really bad flare up or something. TTx


Tilda i have the problem in my thumb and a couple of fingers when it locks down there is such a compulsion to straighten it up again. My OT told me not to do that - being a bit dosey i forgot to ask why, i will the next time. The thumb splint that she give me was to stop it bending down i think. I know what you mean about normality - is this the way it is or is this something that i should have checked out - i have an appointment at the end of the month so i am going to write a list of questions. My hands look as though they don't have muscles and they splay (is that a word) rather than turn inwards - that does not make a lot of sense.

Right I have a load of washing and drying to do today so I am going to hop to it. Have a good weekend. I will post before i go to the consultant - my first appointment with her for 10 months and i could get some questions to ask.


Thanks Mads. I really appreciate the feedback I get from all of you as I often feel pretty abandoned to be honest. Not having access to any dedicated rheumy service apart from a quick meeting every 4 months with my rheumy - and it now looks like it wont be for another 5 months which takes it to almost ten months (just like you) is quite tricky and potentially isolating. I'm grateful for all the bits and pieces your rheumy nurses tell you - although of course I'm not asking you to ask questions you don't have to ask for yourselves - but it's great to have the info you are given shared out so I can the benefit at least. Good luck with your rheumy. TTxx






Please be careful Mrs, RA is so painfull and I really just think we need to embrace as part of us and learn to live with it.

Personally I'm so happy I found this site, we are all in it together.

Chin up Mrs,


Yes I agree Philip - someone did suggest I put up a sign in front of me saying "I have RA" so I would start believing it and stop thinking of ridiculous ways to overcome each hurdle! I think they are probably right there's quite enough snap crackle pop in my life without adding some more! TTx


Hi Tilda, I have a ring fingertip that fused itself after the joint above it was fused, and I bumped it really hard this last summer while canoeing and it make a loud crack. My finger was SO sore & swollen for about 3 weeks, and now I can move that tip of my finger, but now the joint has permanent swelling & I think that I actually broke my finger that day. I never went to the Dr, because I figured what was the use as they can't really do anything for it.

I would be careful, and if you feel that you must bend your finger, that you use heat on it first & ease it slowly. Make sure that you have some ice too-if it hurts afterwards.



Thanks Christine - ouch that sounds painful. I broke a finger when I was at school and that is definitely how my fingers have felt over the past year when they've been bad. But now they don't really hurt much although they do ache and some of the joints are sore if prodded. The only thing that really hurts is if I try to push this finger down beyond 45 degrees so I can't see myself doing it but sometimes I just wonder if forcing it down would sort it out. I don't think I'll try although I do push it sometimes in hot water or in wax bath to see if I can get it further into my palm. I think I'm probably too much of a wimp to do any more than that though but maybe it'll happen by accident one day since it is my right forefinger. My OH squeezed it hard yesterday when he was telling me something and I screamed! TTx


Tilda I think if you did this it would hurt. And I don't want you to hurt!!

SOrry its taken a long while for me to come up with this pearl of wisdom but I've had this cold which has rather blown me out of the water.

As for claiming back abilities we think we may have lost, I think this is possible. An example - I used not to be able to climb stairs properly

I lost a wee bit of weight and after that I learned gradually to be able to do it again. It involved more power to the relevant muscles I suppose. I don't exactly run up stairs but I can do them. So your finger may well recover, but don't hurt yourself!



hey thanks for getting back to me Cathie - I won't do it don't worry I'm actually too much of a wimp to try it as inflicting pain on myself sounds pretty unlikely when push comes to shove. But thanks for your concern anyway - hope that cold is getting better and you haven't had to drop doses of MTX and the anti-tnf for it? Tilda x


Hey! I know your message is very old and I'll be surprised if you even get this but I broke my finger two years ago and I haven't been able to bend it all the way ever since. I have really bad OCD and this causes me great stress and anxiety and I was wondering if you found a way to fix yours ?! Please reply if you see this! Thank you!!


Just to confirm normally the OP wouldn't see your question as a grey avatar & "Hidden" where the user name is normally means that the they're no longer a member here & have deleted their account. But, in this instance, this member is still here but under a different user name so I'm sure if it's seen they'll reply. I'm sure if an active member can relate to your question they'll respond though.

Have you seen your GP about your finger? Was it attended to at the time of breaking? If not it could well have fixed itself in a straight position. If it was attended to but was splinted incorrectly or following the splint removal you weren't given or didn't do correct exercises that could also have longer term lasting problems. Also, if left unattended, calcium deposits can form, nature's way of mending a broken bone. This can occur if your body's signals aren't functioning properly, usually if you're calcium deficient, then extra calcium has a habit of building up around the damaged area & your finger (or wherever the break is) can't bend. Another consideration is if you have OA, this is more likely to be coincidental though, if the finger is affected by OA that can restrict movement if you have Bouchards' nodes (these affect the mid joint) or Heberden's nodes (end joint next to the nail).

Depending on how much distress it causes you it may be worth asking if it could be reset. It would probably have to be x rayed but it would anyway but to determine just what is wrong.


This really made my night because I got shot by a 40 s&W in my index finger and the bullet came out of my index knuckle.... I had surgery and did my exercises like I was supposed to but there's still no improvement... this recently happened in July.... before being shot In May I got engaged and now it's January 3rd and since my finger won't bend I feel like it's hard for my girl to accept me... it really hurts my feelings because she sometimes play and make fun of it but I don't say nun because I don't won't her to know my weakness...

I wonna be accepted it don't matter what color you are I love you guys and I understand yawl pain... but I thought about bending it towards my palm but it just hurt way 2 bad.. but we should accept these changes and go on about our lives already we're still breathing and texting... God bless yawl...


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