We’ve written recently about how much your fingernails can tell you about your health. But it turns out you can tell a lot from looking at the rest of your hands, too.
The NHS says problems with the wrist, hand and fingers are common and can be caused by simple things like carrying out repetitive tasks or an injury during sports or a fall. So, there might not be any need to panic if your hands have become a little sore.
But while some problems have obvious causes and are minor, others can be signs of more serious underlying conditions like endocarditis, Rheumatoid arthritis or diabetes.
Here are some of the signs you could be dealing with a more serious health condition that needs to be investigated.
1. You have sore red or purple bumps on your fingers
Osler nodes are tender, purple-pink bumps with a pale centre and an average diameter of 1-1.5mm. They typically appear on the pads of the fingers and toes.
According to Penn Medicine, symptoms of endocarditis can develop slowly or suddenly.
The most common symptoms are fever, chills and sweating. You might also experience other flu-like symptoms such as fatigue, loss of appetite and aches and pains in your muscles or joints.
Other signs can include: small areas of bleeding under the nails; red, painless skin spots on the palms and soles; shortness of breath with activity; and swelling of the feet, legs and/or abdomen.
2. You’ve got “trigger finger” and/or a tender lump on your hands
If your finger pops or gets stuck when you try to bend or straighten it, you could have a case of trigger finger (or, to give it its proper name, stenosing tenosynovitis).
It occurs when a tendon, which we rely on to move our fingers, becomes too inflamed to easily slide through your hands’ joints. This can cause a swollen, tender lump on the palm side of the base of your finger or thumb.
Trigger finger can happen because of repetitive use – as a result, it’s more common on the ring finger or thumb. But you’re more likely to get the condition if you’ve got diabetes, thyroid issues or Rheumatoid arthritis.
3. You have white, blue or red fingers – especially when cold or stressed
These are all symptoms of a condition called Raynaud’s disease, which is characterised by discoloured fingers and/or toes. If your fingers turn blue, white, or red, particularly when you’re stressed out or cold, you could have it.
The change happens because of circulation issues. Your hands can’t get enough blood to maintain their regular hue, so they become pale or discoloured.
On darker skin, the condition might make your fingertips appear paler instead.
Thankfully, the NHS says that “it’s common and does not usually cause severe problems.”
Still, Raynaud’s can be a symptom of something more serious, like clotting disorders, lupus, Rheumatoid arthritis, Scleroderma (a rare connective tissue disease), Sjögren’s syndrome (an autoimmune disorder), and thyroid disorders.
If you’re worried about your health, it’s best to discuss these concerns with your GP.