9 Year Old with Swollen Fingers

Updated on May 23, 2010
A.B. asks from Denton, TX
6 answers

My 9 year old daughter started complaining of a hurt finger a couple of months ago (over the summer). We never thought much of it, and it is on her left hand. A few weeks ago, I accidentally bonked it, and she cried in pain, so I took a closer look. It is visably swollen. Then last week, we noticed that the thumb on that hand is swollen too, but she says it doesn't hurt. We took her to the doctor, who did absolutely nothing. He said that since there is a history of arthritis in the family that we might want to take her to a pediatric rheumatologist... there are none on our plan, the nearest is 45 miles away, and it is expensive. We are told that 75%-85% of pediatric arthritis cases (IF it is that) are mild and can only be treated with advil, but that a handful of cases are debilitating. Part of me is terrified that she'd be one of the handful of cases; another part says look, the likelihood is that this is nothing and will be a big waste of time and money... I can imagine how she will feel being stuck by needles and such. Anyone been through this? Anyone have kids with swollen fingers/joints before? Thanks.

To clarify, I personally just don't think any parent should have to put their child through a battery of procedures at a hospital far away that isn't even covered by their insurance BEFORE having carefully explored all other (and more plausible) diagnosis for that child's symptoms. We will likely take her to an ORTHO as the next step... GP's aren't specialists, and sometimes it is wise to do your own research before blindly taking their recommendations. Repetetive use injury is another likely cause for swollen fingers. Obviously, if fracture is ruled out, RUI ruled out, and multiple docs suggest the specialist, then obviously we would do that.

I understand the notion "listen to the docs", but in this case, again, if you read the textbooks, she has only ONE symptom even remotely relatable to JRA... and that is the swollen finger. And, that symptom is systematic of MANY different diagnosis. And yes, it is true that in the majority of cases, no treatment beyond "advil" is required.
So, what I am saying is, those diagnosis should be ruled out first. What I am asking is 1. Does anyone have a child with mild JRA that can share their experiences/symptoms... it may help me to know what to watch out for beyond just what the textbooks report, it is nice to hear from an actual person. and 2. Does anyone have a child with swollen finger(s) that is due to a repetetive use injury (like playing a Nintendo DS or texting) or some other cause? Thanks!

What can I do next?

  • Add yourAnswer own comment
  • Ask your own question Add Question
  • Join the Mamapedia community Mamapedia
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

So What Happened?

The docs and nurses keep saying that an x-ray can't pick up a hairline fracture-- only an MRI can, and they won't order that. I'm hoping to find an ORTHO that will do an xray...

More Answers



answers from Dallas on

okay, you do realize that JRA is an autoimmune disease and not just "sore joints", there are other health issues that go along with it? if you suspect that she may have that(and it certainly seems like that suspicion is reasonable), you absolutely need to get her evaluated by a specialist. check into scottish rite if you are worried about money, speak to the pedi again about your predicament and see if he has any additional suggestions for who/how to go about doing this. the longer you let this go untreated, the worse things will be for her IF it does turn out to be JRA. she's not going to like being stuck by needles, but you need to see this through. given what you've written, you'd be walking the fine line of medical neglect to not get her checked out.

edited to add: like i told you in my private message, i truly didn't realize that no x-rays had been done. obviously, i would go down that route FIRST - truly, i'm surprised that hasn't been done already. if there is no OBVIOUS phsyical cause for the pain and swelling per the x-ray, there is NO WAY i'd chalk it up to "arthritis" and give "advil"... btw, i've never heard of JRA being treated with "just advil". i do personally know two people with JRA, which is why i gave the advice i did. both did years of PT as children, and take more than "advil", they have bloodwork regulary, see a rheumatologist regularly, etc. there is more to treat in JRA that the pain! and i'm not a "the doctor is God and you should do as he/she says". honestly, i'd be running from your dr far and fast as i could for not doing or suggesting an x-ray. i'm more a "common sense" type of parent. you have a child that has been in pain for a longer amount of time than you would really expect for the "injury", that warrants further examination by someone, be it an ortho or a rheumatologist. you just kind of sound like if it's not a fracture, you'll just assume it's arthritis and treat with advil. that's very dangerous, and just b/c your husband is a nurse, doesn't mean you shouldn't get an accurate and complete diagnosis. additionally, you should contact your insurance company if it comes down to it and find out the procedure for getting a specialist covered when they don't offer any of that specialty on your plan.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on




answers from Boise on

I grew up with a sister who HAD JRA... it was a LONG and painful process... she started out the same way. Her hands hurt... then it went to her knees... then it went from there... The longer you wait the more damage it can do, and the more problems it can cause. Its better to rule it out, than to ignore it. It is much better than what my doctor did to my poor little girl... who IS showing all the symptoms... for the past 3 months... they refuse to run the correct tests.


answers from Dallas on

no, but I would ask the doc to rule out a hairline break that has not healed. you said she hurt her finger and it never got better.



answers from Dallas on

Scottish Rite provides free medical evals & care for children with (suspected) arthritis. My 11 y.o. has arthritis in her hands; it's not JRA (no fever, rash, etc) but a related form of immune disorder arthritis (for now they are calling it polyarticular arthritis). If your GP or pedi calls SR (Scottish Rite), SR will ask them to collect a blood sample to do an ANA, sed rate, common genetic markers for arthritis, etc. Some immune forms of arthritis are sero-negative (blood tests negative), however, as is my daughters. After SR saw her they ordered an MRI of her hand which is how the arthritis was confirmed, using an MRI place that's known for experience at catching edema in the bones.

Immune forms of arthritis can come along with bladder problems, frequent eye infections, psoriasis, chronic fatigue, chest pain (from the sternum) and other health issues that the typical person doesn't recognize as related to arthritis. Kids/adults with this can also be at higher risk for Crohn's disease (serious bowel problems). The bone changes are permanent, and in children are not always painful initially. Medication can reduce the inflamation and prevent much of the bone damage.

The only pedi rheumies that I've been able to find around here all work at SR. Check her out now, while SR is free (til she's 18) rather than when she's a poor college student w/ no health insurance having more problems.

Feel free to message me if you have questions. I also have psoriatic arthritis and it took me years to get diagnosed but I feel SO much better now on enbrel, which is a miracle drug for me. My dd's arthritis is not severe enough yet to need enbrel; fortunately we caught it early. Good luck!



answers from Dallas on

I agree with Jennifer, While we as mothers at times can be more like Doctors we are not, we didnt go to school for this. While it could be as simple as a break what you have to determine why would an additonal finger be swollen if it was a break? JRA is a serious condition and can be treated with more than just Advil.

For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions

Related Searches