The Real Reason Your Fingers Are Swollen

Swollen fingers can be frustrating: One minute, you're able to slide rings on and off with ease, and then suddenly, you feel like your digits have swelled up like sausages and your rings are stuck in place. This swelling, also known as edema, is a common issue that is often not a cause for concern. If you've suddenly realized your wedding ring is stuck in place, there could be a few common reasons to blame.

The first: You just exercised. As you work out, your body starts to work harder, requiring more blood flow to your muscles, heart, and lungs. As this happens, the blood flow to your fingers — especially if you're doing a workout where your arms are bent, like running, or held at an angle without moving, like cycling —may become restricted. Doing arm circles, elevating your arms, and avoiding anything constrictive, like tight sleeves or a sports watch, may help improve circulation to your fingers while you work out (via Healthline). 

Your fingers can also swell if you have eaten a lot of salty foods. While our bodies do require sodium to help us stay hydrated, too much sodium (usually in the form of salty fast food) can cause fluid to build up in your system, especially in spots like your fingers (via WebMD). If you think this is the case, simply skip the salt in your next couple of meals and drink more water to help restore balance. If this happens often, you could consider adopting a low-sodium diet (via Healthline).

A few more causes of swollen fingers

If it's hot out, you may be more prone to get swollen fingers. If you're suddenly in a tropical climate or in a hot yoga class after being in cool weather or air-conditioning, the sudden shift in temperature can cause your fingers to swell. This is because your body is trying to cool itself by allowing blood vessels to swell so that heat can leave the body. Cool off in an air-conditioned room or in a cool shower and you'll likely find that the swelling disappears (via WebMD). 

The swelling could also come from a recently injured finger. The cause of swelling could be trauma-induced, per the American Society for Surgery of the Hand (ASSH). Swelling is the body's reaction to injury, immobilizing the area temporarily to allow it to heal. The swelling is caused by fluid that collects in your finger, and if this is the case for you, the ASSH recommends elevating your hand in order to allow the blood to flow back down your arm. You can also use ice packs to bring swelling down. 

There are other more serious causes of swollen hands including lymphedema, angioedema, psoriatic arthritis, and preeclampsia in pregnant women (via Healthline). If your fingers are swelling often and the cause is unknown — you're not exercising, it's cool out and you've curbed your salt intake — it might be time to seek professional help from a doctor.