Hazel10 Asked :
I’m kind of worried about my finger, my right index finger. About 3 days ago, I had put on a ring and by accident I fell asleep with my ring on, but only for about 30 to 60 minutes and the ring wasn’t even tight.
When i woke up, my finger felt weird when I took off my ring,I thought maybe cause I fell asleep with it. I’m used to it now, but 2 days ago, I realized that my finger is swollen but it doesn’t hurt at all. It just feels uncomfortable.
I tried putting ice on it cause sometimes ice helps for swelling? Well it didn’t, it only became red.
Can someone please explain this to me, and should I be worried?
This question was posted under the Swollen Arm and Swelling of the Hand, Forearm, Fingers article.
Any response by the Health Hype team does not constitute a medical consultation and the advice should be viewed purely as a guide. Always consult with your doctor before making any changes to your current treatment program. The information provided in this article is not an authoritative resource on the subject matter and solely intends to guide the reader based on the questions asked and information provided.
Dr. Chris Answered :
The flow of lymph fluid in the fingers and legs slows down during sleep due to a lack of movement. Therefore any piece of jewelry that may not feel tight but is fitting well can slow down the lymph flow even further resulting in swelling. Fortunately you removed your ring soon after so your finger had not swollen to the extent where it prevented this. So it may not be this mechanism of action that is causing the persistent swelling.
You may be allergic to the type of metal used in the ring but at this point you would have seen some redness of the skin and felt some itching along with the swelling. Either way, it should have settled to some extent at this point. It is possible that when you removed the ring, you may have done so in a rough manner and probably hurt the finger. Inflammation from soft tissue injury is not always very painful, although there may be at least some tenderness, and can persist for a period of time. However, it should have started to settle so long afterwards.
It is possible that your finger swelling is not related to this incident with the ring. You may have only become more conscious of the swollen finger after this incident. If you can slip the ring back on and remove it then it is unlikely that there is any extra swelling than what was present prior to this incident. In this case you will have to look at other causes of the swollen finger. However, if you cannot easily slip your ring on and take it off now, then it is likely that your finger is swollen and it is not swelling that existed prior to this incident and it is not just perceived swelling.
You should see a doctor and let him/her examine the area, conduct a neurological exam and assess your range of motion and muscle strength of the affected area. If necessary your doctor may consider other tests and investigations to confirm a diagnosis. Depending on your age and past medical history, your doctor may have to consider other diseases which present with a swollen finger.
Swelling of a single finger is often due to an injury, tight jewelry and an infection particularly in nail biters. In women especially, an acrylic nail fungus can also cause swelling of a finger. Some pain is usually present in an injury or infection. If none of these could be a cause then you need medical attention. The index finger is used a lot more than your ring finger and jewelry on this finger can often result in swelling due to overuse and hampered lymph and blood due to a snugly fitting ring. It is therefore advisable to avoid using rings on the thumb, index finger and forefinger.
Lastly, applying ice or immersing the finger in ice water will actually aggravate the swelling. Ice is helpful if there is inflammation of an area and can be applied immediately after an injury or burn. In this case it reduces the extent of the inflammation and allows the body to begin healing process. However, this is a temporary measure and is only useful if the injury is not severe.
When an area of the body is exposed to extreme cold, it will turn pale and may appear to ‘shrink’ a little due to the reduced blood flow to the area. Immediately thereafter the circulation to this area will increase as the body tries to restore the normal temperature and return the blood flow to normal. This can cause redness and swelling. If you are not experiencing any pain and your finger is able to move normally, then stop with the ice as this could be causing the persistent swelling. Do not use a ring or any jewelry on the affected limb and speak to your doctor as soon as possible.
Article reviewed by Dr. Greg. Last updated on May 1, 2010