Ganglion cysts, the most common lump in the hand, are generally harmless. Most frequently found on the back of the wrist, these fluid-filled sacs vary in size and can quickly appear or disappear. Many do not require treatment unless there is pain or there are issues with function or appearance.
What causes a Ganglion Cyst?
The exact causes of ganglion cysts are unknown, but they may arise from trauma – either a single event or a repeated microtrauma.
How do you know you have a Ganglion Cyst?
The most common sign is a visible lump, which can grow larger with increased wrist activity. This is often the only symptom. Others may include:
- Muscle weakness
How does OSI fix a Ganglion Cyst?
An OSI hand and wrist specialist will discuss your ganglion cyst and examine it. You may be concerned with one or more of the symptoms above, or you may simply want the cyst removed due to its appearance. You and your board-certified OSI orthopedic surgeon will discuss the best course of action after doing one or more of the following:
- Physical exam: Your doctor will discuss your medical history, symptoms, how long you’ve had the cyst, changes in size, and level of pain. Since the lump is visible, your OSI doctor will press on it to identify tenderness. This is generally the only diagnostic necessary for a ganglion cyst.
- X-rays: X-rays will not show a ganglion cyst; however, they can be used to rule out other conditions.
- MRI: In some instances, an MRI is needed to distinguish the cyst from other tumors.
Ganglion cysts are harmless, but there are a few treatment options:
- Monitoring but no treatment. As the cyst may disappear, your OSI physician may recommend simply monitoring it.
- Splinting: A wrist splint (or brace) may relieve symptoms of pain and result in a decrease in size of the cyst.
- Aspiration: A cyst causing pain or that limits function may have fluid drained from it (aspiration).
If other treatment options fail or aren’t deemed appropriate by your OSI specialist, the cyst may be surgically removed in a procedure known as excision. This excision involves removing the cyst and part of the involved joint capsule or tendon sheath, which is considered the root of the cyst. Your OSI orthopedic specialist will perform this procedure as outpatient, and you’ll be able to go home after a short period of observation.