Numerous conditions can cause fingertip and toe pain. According to the Texas Children's Hospital--a pediatric hospital in Houston, Texas--a significant amount of fingertip and toe pain is caused by injuries such as cuts, scrapes, fractures and dislocations 1. However, certain medical conditions and environmental factors can also cause pain in the fingertips and toes. Pain in these regions ranges from mild to severe, depending on the cause. In some cases, the pain can affect a person's activities of daily living.
Raynaud's disease can cause pain in the fingertips and toes. According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, Raynaud's disease is a rare condition that primarily targets the arteries in the extremities 2. Arteries are blood vessels that transport oxygenated blood from the heart to the organs and tissues. The institute states that Raynaud's disease is characterized by brief bouts of vasospasm, or narrowing of the arteries. A narrowing of the arteries restricts circulation to the fingers and toes. The fingers are most commonly affected, although approximately 40 percent of people with Raynaud's disease also experience pain in the toes, according to the institute. In some cases, the nose, ears, nipples and lips are affected. Common signs and symptoms associated with Raynaud's disease include cold, painful fingers and toes, skin discoloration in the affected area and stinging pain in the fingers and toes when warming up or following a stressful situation.
Frostbite can cause pain in the fingertips and toes. Medline Plus states that frostbite occurs when the skin and underlying tissues are damaged by extreme cold 3. Frostbitten extremities may indicate that a person is experiencing hypothermia or lowered body temperature. Frostbite is characterized by skin that's hard, pale, cold and lacks sensitivity. In some cases, aching pain in the affected area may also be present. As the involved tissues thaw, the flesh becomes red and extremely painful. According to Medline Plus, any part of the body may experience frostbite, although the hands, feet, nose and ears are the most susceptible body parts 3. Certain individuals are more vulnerable to frostbite than others, including people who spend prolonged periods of time in cold temperatures, people taking beta-blockers, smokers, diabetics and people with peripheral vascular disease 4.
Peripheral Vascular Disease
Peripheral vascular disease can cause pain in the fingertips and toes 4. According to MayoClinic.com, peripheral vascular disease, also known as peripheral artery disease, occurs when arteries narrow, restricting blood flow to the extremities 4. In some cases, peripheral vascular disease can limit the amount of blood transported to the heart and brain 4. Peripheral vascular disease is a common problem of the circulatory system, and it may signal widespread atherosclerosis or accumulation of fatty and fibrous material within the arteries 4. The most common cause of peripheral vascular disease is atherosclerosis, although the condition may also be caused by trauma, blood vessel inflammation, anatomical abnormalities or radiation exposure 4. Common signs and symptoms associated with peripheral vascular disease include pain in the extremities, cuts and sores on the toes that heal slowly or fail to heal and leg numbness or weakness 4. Peripheral vascular disease responds well to quitting smoking, exercising and consumption of a healthy diet 4.
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