Ganglion cysts start inflaming at the joint of a tendon. The cyst contains mucus-like fluid which is thick and clear, and is usually found in the joint. These can usually be found at different areas of the wrist, if it occurs. If the patient’s ganglion cyst grows on the top of their wrist, then it is classified as a dorsal ganglion. Other types of cysts are usually found at the base of a finger, at the end joint of a finger, or at under the wrist between the pulse point and thumb. Usually these cysts are harmless and should disappear in time.
A wrist ganglion can appear on the hand as point A, the dorsum (back) of the hand, or as B- the volar (underside) of the hand.
No one genuinely knows what causes the formation of the ganglion. Usually, women are more affected by these than men. For people who apply stress to their wrists often, like gymnasts, ganglia will be extremely common.
Large ganglia may not be that painful, but are still quite unattractive. At times patients may get small ganglions that are hidden underneath their skin. These cysts are referred to as occult ganglions.
Ganglions are like balloons when they grow out of a joint. It rises out of the tissues between the bones and muscles. Inside this ‘balloon’ type cyst, there is a fluid that is quite like the fluid in your joints. The more that the wrist is moved and kept active, the bigger the cyst can grow. Usually, as long as the patient takes care of the cyst, the lump can slowly heal itself and shrink.
Treatment for ganglions is not surgical, since the ganglion is not cancerous. Here are some tips for helping heal your ganglion cyst:
Aspiration: If your ganglion causes far too much pain and it genuinely is limiting the things you can do, it might be time to get the fluid drained from the cyst. This is called aspiration and usually during this procedure the cyst is numbed so that the fluid inside can be drained by a needle.
Observation: As silly as it may seem, it might be a simple treatment of just watching your ganglion cyst to make sure that nothing bad, like change in color, happens to it. It usually can disappear in time.
Immobilization: Making sure that you genuinely make sure to keep the movement of your ganglion to a minimum is extremely important since activity usually makes the cyst grow. Activity can increase pressure on the nerves surrounding the cyst which causes a lot of more pain and irritation. A good tip is to invest in a wrist brace or even a splint so that you can limit the mobilization. Your doctor may also prescribe certain exercises as your cyst decreases in pain, so that you can get your wrist back to its usual strength.
Please note, however, that with nonsurgical treatment of your cyst, it may reform on your skin.
If your nonsurgical measures have ultimately failed, ganglion cyst surgery is needed. It usually involves removing part of the afflicted tendon sheath or joint capsule. It’s removed through a small incision the size of the cyst. Beware the fact that though it does decrease the chances of having the cyst reappear; it does not always guarantee that the cyst will continue to be gone. After the orthopedic surgery, there will be discomfort and overall tenderness. Usually the patient will be able to resume their usual activities at least two to six weeks after surgery.
To schedule a consultation with Dr. Samimi to learn more about ganglion cyst surgery and treatment options click here.