What is trigger finger?

DEAR DOCTOR K: My finger hurts. When I try to bend and straighten it, it feels like it's catching. What's going on?

DEAR READER: It sounds like you have trigger finger. This common condition is named for the trigger-like snap that occurs when the finger briefly locks and then suddenly releases as you try to bend or straighten it.

What would cause numbness and tingling in my little finger?

DEAR DOCTOR K: I'm bothered by numbness and tingling in my little finger and general weakness in my right hand. Could I have carpal tunnel syndrome?

DEAR READER: Based on your description, I'd say you have cubital (not carpal) tunnel syndrome. Another name for this condition is ulnar neuropathy. Cubital tunnel syndrome, like carpal tunnel syndrome, is a "pinched nerve" problem. The affected nerve is the ulnar nerve.

Should I see a doctor for a finger injury?

DEAR DOCTOR K: I hurt my finger playing basketball last week. The pain is manageable, but doesn't seem to be lessening. Should I see a doctor?

DEAR READER: Catching a ball -- a football, baseball or basketball -- is a common way kids and young adults can injure a finger. Fortunately, most finger injuries are not serious or lasting. But sometimes a tendon (fibers that connect muscles to bones, and cause fingers to move) can be torn, or a joint can be dislocated, or one of the finger bones broken. So you've asked an important question.

Can cracking your knuckles cause arthritis?

DEAR DOCTOR K: My husband cracks his knuckles constantly. Aside from the fact that I find it annoying, I'm also worried that it's bad for him. Can knuckle-cracking lead to arthritis or other problems?

DEAR READER: That "popping" noise that irritates you so much when your husband cracks his knuckles may well be music to his ears. But for those who don't crack their knuckles, the appeal can be hard to understand. And, like you, some of my patients (spouses of habitual knuckle-poppers) have wondered what causes the sound and whether it's harmful.