Distal Interphalangeal Joint Pain? Causes and Treatments

DIP Joint Pain Issues

Image courtesy: Webmd – illustrating the DIP joint

The Interphalangeal joint, commonly known as DIP (Distal Interphalangeal Joint) is the connecting joint at the very end of your fingers. Each one of your fingers contains a DIP joint which has a very peculiar shape.

The joint is dome shaped towards the hand and contains curves on its other end. The main purpose of the DIP is to widen the range of your finger’s movements. It allows your fingers to rotate and move sideways while at the same time, wear and tear makes you more prone to Interphalangeal joint issues.

Mostly occurring DIP issues are related to osteoarthritis. The disease occurs for no clear reason and may get triggered by changing weather conditions or an old injury.

DIP joints are, unfortunately, a common location for osteoarthritis to affect. The condition has a vital relation to the victim’s age however, and according to recent researches, this issue in DIP joint has happened to nearly 60% of people aged 60+.


Usually our body’s joints are kept moist by a lubricant known as articular cartilage. The fluid tank keeps on refilling on regular intervals by itself as long as your body is functioning properly.

Interphalangeal joint pain may be because of different reasons and lack of this fluid is one major cause. The structure of the DIP joint starts to reduce its size and may apparently wear away in some cases due to rubbing against and friction with other bones.

The joint however tries to compensate by creating an extra layer of bone so that more fluid is produced. This deformity process is called Heberden’s node. This excessive bone matter leads to even more pain.

A few of the commonly occurring causes of Interphalangeal joint pain are:

  • Engaging in heavy labour on regular basis.
  • Family history of joint issues.


It starts with minor pain which may be felt only in small intervals. Yet it mostly gets serious as time goes by. You experience pain in DIP joints because of the changes that occur in the build and structure of your joint.

The formation of Heberden’s node is a common cause found by most doctors in patients with DIP issues.

Mostly seen symptoms include:

  • Difficulty in doing household chores.
  • Issue opening tight bottles.
  • Problems working with small items.


The basic diagnosis of Interphalangeal joint pain can only be done by a specialized hand specialist. The doctor asks question about the patient’s symptoms like how it began and how the pain has been transforming recently.

The patient’s fingers are examined by putting stress on them and inquiring about the pain levels after each movement. X-ray scans are also brought into account while making a final conclusion about a patient’s condition.


Doctors try to consider every non-surgical option first. Painkillers and anti-inflammatory medicine are utilized in the first step to drive the pain away.

Nurofen and Votarol are the most common among them. Massaging the area by using gels with these relaxants can prove very beneficial as well.

Utilizing a splint at the finger tip can also prevent it from any further damage. In case of severe pain and discomfort, steroid injections would be an option considered by many doctors.

Meanwhile, are you suffering from Distal Interphalangeal Joint issues? If so, please feel free to share your experience and feedback via commenting below.


Jeremy Clark has written 12 articles

Jeremy loves traveling around the world and has spent a couple of years in Africa, which he believes were transformative for him. He studied medicine for a few years before switching to law but still loves writing about medical issues and research.

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