What are ganglion cysts?

Ganglion cysts are common lumps or mass in the hand which are generally not cancerous and are not harmful. They occur in a number of parts of the hand but mostly develop on the back side of the wrist.  These fluid-filled cysts may change size, appear and disappear at a very fast pace. Many of these lumps do not require drastic action, but if they are painful, are unsightly, or if they interfere with function, a number of treatments can help.

These lumps develop out of a joint and grow out of the tissues nearby a joint like ligaments, joint linings and tendon sheaths. Inside them is a dense, slippery fluid, just like the liquid that lubricates your joints.  Ganglion cysts may crop up in a number of joints in the hand and wrist, such as the top and bottom of the wrist, the end joint of a finger and at the finger’s base. These lumps have different sizes and generally become larger as the activity of the wrist increases. Resting can help decrease the size of the lumps in some cases.

What Causes a Ganglion Cyst?

What the reasons why ganglion cysts form are not completely understood, they generally develop at the end joint of fingers  and are typically associated with arthritis of in the finger joint. These types of cysts are more common in females between ages 40 to 70, although some men so suffer from them as well.  It is also a common condition suffered by gymnasts because of the constant pressure applied to their wrists as they train and compete.

Symptoms of Ganglion Cysts

Most ganglion cysts are a large lump, but they start as smaller ones which may not be visible. Even though several ganglion cysts do not have any outward signs, if a cyst exerts pressure on the nerves near the joint it may give way to pain, tingling or muscle weakness.  Large cysts, even if painless, may have an effect on the looks of the fingers or joints that are impacted.

Surgical Removal of Ganglion Cysts in Charlotte

The way to remove a ganglion cyst is known as an excision and generally includes getting rid of the cyst as well as part of the joint capsule involved or tendon sheath, considered the root of the ganglion. This is an outpatient treatment and most of the patients can leave for home after some observation time.  Some people want to avoid surgery and drain the ganglion cyst.  This is possible but it is important to note that the cyst is likely to come back in this scenario.

You may experience some discomfort, tenderness, as well as swelling after surgery and general activities can typically be resumed two to six weeks afterward surgery.

Consult a fellowship-trained hand surgeon in Charlotte

If you have a ganglion cyst that has been bothering you and would like to learn about your options, please Contact Us to to schedule a consultation.