Swollen finger

I am 59 and had my stroke on December 14 last year. It affected my right side arm and leg which have improved considerably over the last 3 months. I have found the stroke guide very helpful and it feels reassuring that I am not alone. I have a broad selection of the common problems but overall mustn't grumble.

I wondered if anyone else had suffered from a swollen and painful finger or shoulder on the stroke side, and if so did it recover with time. Do the overall aches and pains ever subside. Anyone got any advice on how to help it on its way.

Regards Neil 




Hi Neil. I can only comment on the shoulder. Since my stroke three years ago, I feel as if I have a frozen shoulder even though I don’t. My exercise class tutor pointed out to me the other week that because we have strong shoulder muscles, they keep the arm and hand suspended naturally but that weak shoulder muscles affect the arm and hand accordingly. However, I have no medical experience about pain or shoulder problems.

Dear Neil,


I am glad you are recovering well, may it continue.

If I may ask, please, in what way have your arm and leg improved after stroke?

My husband has had a stroke, left side affected, and his arm and leg are parallysed.

I have found that the aches and pains have eased over time. That easing happened after about 18 months. I have "left sided weakness" which I dont notice most of the time. As our brains are working differently, it seems that muscles are not utilized as they were throughout our lives and that they complain bitterly.  I think that substantial and varied exercise would have helped, but I dont have the capacity to do that. So I do what I can, when I can. I always ensure i have moved around each day. Gardening, walking, houeswork and making the bed are all good exercise. I remind myself that the muscles were not injured, only the messaging system. 

So much to learn.

Best wishes


Thanks Colin your posts are an inspiration to us all.

I have one finger which has swollen up and is sore to bend, its worse in the morning but seems to be getting worse with time.

Look forward to an easing of the pain, I'm only 3 months in so got to be patient.

I now manage a 1/2 mile walk with the dog to the local park I can just about make it before the cramp gets too bad. I wear dark glasses as I now seem very sensitive to bright light. Not sure if this will ease, but in the scheme of things is no big deal.

The local park has one of these outdoor gym areas which really suits my abilities it's also free and never closes. After a while of very gentle exercise, the cramp has eased and I have the strength to walk home again.

I sometimes wish improvement could be a bit slower but consistent instead of one step forward and two back good one day bad the next.

Like you say keep smiling its good for you.


Hi Tinkerbell,

I know everyone is different but here's my story for what its worth.

Went to A&E when my partner noticed slurred speech one morning.

At first they were not sure what was going on but kept me in for observation.

I had various scans and tests over the next few days and thing became steadily worse.

I found I could no longer text on my phone with my left hand or reach behind my head.

I could limp to the toilet but found a few yards a huge effort and needed help.

Things slowly improved over the next 10 days and I was sent home.

I could walk unaided but very slowly and managed the stairs at home one at a time.

I suffered from emotional incontinence not knowing when to laugh or cry.

I could not stir a cup of tea let alone lift it.

I work hard at recovery it is not easy but every now again the brain seems to give you a little reward for your efforts. Whilst I have been fortunate enough to be able to blink both eyes shut, if I tried to squeeze them shut together, one eye stayed open. It took over 2 months of trying but one day it just happened. I can't tell you how good I felt. Now 3 months on and I can wink the right eye on its own, the brain is an incredible tool.

Don't get discouraged if improvement seems slow if non-existent, it really is painfully slow. But just when you feel you're wasting your time something remarkable will happen. Don't push too hard but be relentless drink plenty of water and sleep when ever you can.

My speech still needs a lot of work I've starting chewing gum in the hope that it will revive my muscles, I guess its worth a try.  I can walk quite well as long as I think about it .

My arm is weak but far from useless I struggle to understand how much of this is muscle wastage and how much is down to brain damage.

I could go on all day but I know its time for a rest when I start to chew my mouth.








I also feel that mine is frozen whilst it's not. It is worse in the morning and keeps me awake at night. I'm only 3 months in so I guess I must be patient.  


Dear Neil just read your message and after having some herendous days you have given me some encouragement to keep going I am not the survivor but the carer.I feel my husband's loss to but I don't think he knows or recognises this in his comprenhension but thank you.


Dear Neil,


Thank you for replying, I sincerely appreciate it, and hope you continue to recover well.

Your story is almost identical to my husband's, apart from the fact that what you are describing happened whilst he was already in hospital, (he had gone there because he had a problem with his asthma).

Now, one month and 1 week later, he is still not walking or moving his arm. What angers me is that the medical staff are now saying that, if his arm did not move until now, it will never do. Fair enough, they are doctors and have the knowledge, but they can be wrong. I refuse to give into negative thoughts, for my sake and my husband's.

He is now trying to do standing exercises and is accepting them now, he had been rejecting exercises before.

I will always keep hope, nothing like one day after another.

I’m afraid patience is something we survivors all have to learn. You are in early days and you will sleep better in time. The other problem I had in the early days is that although I regained some use in my weak hand, when I stopped using it at night. I got throbbing pains down all the fingers. I took medication for this but one night I bore with the pain to see how long it would last. Itvwore off after one and a half hours. The oddest post stroke experiencevwas involuntary movements in my weak leg and foot, again usually in bed. I found these interesting because it was clearly the brain making new pathways.

My leg now feels ‘normal’. A physio told me the leg and foot improve faster than the arm and hand because they perform less complex functions. My left hand is now improving but is still wonky and can drop things or sweep things to one side as easy as blinking. It can still jerk a lot when it wants to. I utilise it as much as I can though. All the best Neil. It is a tough journey but you’ll get there.

Dear Neil

Yes indeed, you are in the early days of recovery.

Roughly and commonly, recovery is quick for the first 3 to 6 months. Then plenty more but slower recovery up to the two year mark. Even slower after that.

At 3 months I was walking a mile and at the limit of my energy. Then I went down with one of the numerous problems so I tried reserving more energy by walking less. I dont know whether that was right or wrong. I was having bad problems with my hearing and I concentrated on sorting that out. Eventually discovered my brain had forgotten about echos. So any PA system caused meltdown. Maybe your sight problems will have a simple answer, I do hope so.

I got my eyes tested, including the flash machines that the opticians now have (cost £40). No probs with them.

My way was to concentrate at problems one at a time. Its the only way I could cope. I have no clue as to whether I would now be more able had I done more exercise. I dont intend having another stroke to find out.

I have slightly swollen fingers, starting with potting on plants last week. Not severe like yours, but it did register. 

Yet another issue is all the medication. My body didnt like statins, so, with GP agreement, I stopped those. Others have problems with Clopidgrel (blood thinner) so I did a ten week test and concluded clopiwhatsits had no side effect. I have two BP tablets and dare not "test" what they cause, as my BP and pulse are a serious issue.

I do wonder if its a medication causing the swelling ? Just a stab in the dark, but have you got excess uric acid in the blood ? Hopefully your blood tests covered that. If you have excess then little crystals form in your blood and find resting places in your joints. Ouch and double ouch. The area around the joint gets red and tnis warm to the touch.

So much to learn. So many tips to discover.

Best wishes






Hi John,

I have also experienced involuntary jerk movements in my leg along with a feeling as if I have been jabbed with a needle. I am also left with a sense that it is my brain reconnecting, it could, of course, be wishful thinking.

I now have an almost full range of movement in my leg with an occasional jerk movement when up on the ball of my foot. I can manage about a 1/2 mile walk before cramp sets in and I need to rest. I am hoping this will improve and walk every day.I occasionally drag my foot when I'm tired. 

Like you the arm is going to take longer, I have a reasonable range of movement but am still very weak. I work on the muscles each day with little improvement.

I have full movement of the shoulder but only if the arm is pulled into position, so it's not frozen as such but acts like it is. I had a frozen shoulder once years ago so I know how it feels. This is different I need to get advice on how to help this.

Finally, may I ask when your stroke occurred and have you managed to regain some strength in your arm.





Yes, Neil I have. I am three years post stroke and in the first year the weak arm could hold nothing and had quite a lot of muscle wastage. I had lots of physio in the first year and then started an exercise class for active seniors. It proved helpful so I upped attendance to three classes a week. The class includes arm exercises and seated Tai Chi. Three years on and I can lift light things, but not trays with hot meals on.

The main thing to remember is use your weak arm and hand all you can, but expect things to go wrong. I had to go to a funeral a few weeks ago and thought, ‘I wonder if I can put my tie on myself?’ To my surprise I could. This would mean nothing to a non survivor, but to me it was another step forward. However, I might be able to hold an empty tea plate, but put a piece of cake on it and a quick jerk will send it ‘to infinity and beyond’. However, you have to keep trying when you can’t do something. Crying doesn’t help you or anyone else around you.

hi Neil

I had my stroke 7 years ago, and like you my shoulder on my affected side (left) was very painful, I was told that my shoulder was subluxed which is common after a stroke apparently, my physio concenrated on assisted movement excercise which relieved the pain considerably, however a few months afterwards I began to experience the pain again, I also noticed that my fingers, hand and fore arm were becoming prone to swelling to the point which I stopped wearing my wedding ring, the swelling did subside on and off to the point that it stopped altogether after a short while, however my shoulder was still painful and my GP organised gold injections into it which helped profoundly. 

regarding your query about general aches and pains, I cannot honestly say if they do fully subside, I still get them, but as I am now 63 years old, I dont know if they are the result of my stroke or just general old age

hope this helps,stay well


Hi Davet,

Thanks, I shall certainly mention the gold injections, I see that it is primarily used for rheumatoid arthritis but can be effective for swelling.

When I refer to aches and pains, these go well beyond what I was used to as a 59 year old. I guess that 3 and a half months is too early to expect much.

I know we're all different but how long was it before the swelling subsided and did your arm ever return to full strength. 

Thanks again



Hi Neil,

the swelling on my arm and hand e.t.c seemed to come and go for a couple of months, swollen one day, not the next, then after about 2 months it stopped completely, sadly my arm has still not returned to full strength although I did seem to gain better movement.

I know the aches and pains can be horrendous at times, my stroke nurse explained that  it is generally due to muscules being weak due to lack of full use and other muscules not usually used as much working harder to compensate and eventually these aches and pains will go