Ok, so if you pick up the guitar w/o warming up your hands are "cold". What is this supposed to feel like? Stiffness obviously, but any discomfort/pain? I've been playing more than I ever have this year. Anywhere from 1 hours to 4 a day. Most of the time I'm just casually playing songs that I like to hear. Maybe an hour or 2 is serious play. Whenever I pick up the guitar to play I have to massage my fretting index finger intermittently while warming up until it feels normal. If I don't massage the finger it will remain stiff (less range of motion than my picking index finger) and there will be dull to moderate pain in both knuckles and sometimes in between the knuckles. Now, once I warm up my finger there is no pain. I'm sure this is b/c I barre/mute e-D/A on most songs or possibly b/c I've gone up from 9's to 13's since feb, but wouldn't that effect the other fingers as well? If you experience this as well or know anything about it pls share thank you

ps: Please no suggesting tendinitis, cts, etc unless you honestly believe this fits. I've searched through a lot of different threads to figure this out and it seems like a lot of ppl who don't know much about these issues simply lump all general hand/forearm problems into their umbrella tendinitis/cts theory w/o any real knowledge of what else it could be.
im gonna speak for myself, now.
when my hands are cold, i simply cant play as fast as when i warmed up and did a couple of exercises or slower riffs to get my hand going, especially my fretting hand. i just cant keep the speed and accuracy when my hands are cold.
honestly, i dont think you'll really injure yourself if you try to play without warming up, except for using wrong technique, probably. but just to be sure (that's if you're afraid of tearing something up in your wrist etc) do a couple of exercises, like a chromatic build up or some scales, nothing fancy.
When I'm not warmed up properly I just don't move as quickly or efficiently as I do when I've been playing for a while, I've never had any pain because of it...

I would suggest that you look at your technique a bit and make sure you're doing everything right, pain is usually your body's way of telling you you're doing it wrong.
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i always have to warm up too. im into the habbit of constantly rolling my fingers up and down to keep my fingers feeling like fluid. switching to heavy strings like that will probably make it harder and make your hands hurt more. you have to build up finger strength for the pain to go away.
hands -> freezer -> guitar

but really. they just dont work as well, it feels harder to play fast until youre warmed up. its all stiff and moving un-friendly. if youre playing songs casually when you first pick it up, you might not notice it, but if u try to pick it right up and do speed exercises, it wont work as well
i had that exact same pain in my finger when i started using thicker bass strings. just keep playing and build up your finger strength. also don't make your warmup something ridiculous. it should be some chords and scales to stretch out your fingers.
In the back of my head I had the feeling that larger strings could be contributing, but I do have a hard time wrapping my head around why my other fingers wouldn't be experiencing the same thing. Does anyone know how long typically it would take to adjust to new string gauges? Thanks for the input guys
I have to do warm-ups no matter what.
I have some thing where my hands are always cold (it might be poor circulation, is what I'm told), but if I don't warm up first, my fingers will simply not do what I need them to do.

I sometimes wear those gloves that are fingerless but have a mitten connected that can be put over the fingers and then I can put the mitten part on and keep my hands warm, or take it off and still be able to warm up on the guitar while still wearing the gloves.

I take the gloves off if I'm performing or whatever, but yeah.
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You could just be applying more pressure with your index finger than with the others,, as it is the strongest, so it is causing your index finger to hurt more than the others.

Just a thought.
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If you want to see what cold hand's are like, just go outside in the cold for a bit without gloves. If you wait long enough, you're hands will get so cold that you can barely get a hold of the pick. It really just feels like your hands are responding slower than they should, and so your mind ends up ahead of your hands, and you feel frustrated that your fingers won't just go faster.
I have really bad circulation in my hands so they're actually cold, if I just start playing after waking up I'll miss notes, be incapable of playing fast and generally play in a sloppy fashion. Holding a hot drink and then playing a couple of songs usually gets my blood flowing enough and I always wear wrist bands for the warmth factor.
You said there was a dull pain in your knuckles though and that doesn't sound like a warming up issue to me, it's strange that it goes away after warming up though. Do you get this pain when performing any other activities or just when playing guitar? It might be worth seeing a doctor, even if it's just for your peace of mind.
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It's the same theory as with more standard exercise, if you were going for a run, you'd warm up first or you will suffer in performance, possibly be in more pain and maybe hurt something. Not saying you'll hurt yourself playing guitar but tbh you could, over stretching could damage a muscle or ligament or just generally strain your fingers. I hate playing with cold fingers personally, luckily (well not really, depends on your perspective) i seem to have developed a nervous habit where i touch my thumb as though it were a fret with alternating fingers. Since i've started finger-picking a lot more i do it with both hands but originally it was just my fretting hand, but yeh it helps me to keep my fingers active and warmed up.