What is a ganglion?

Ganglion cysts are usually oval or round in shape and are filled with a jelly like fluid.

Hand and wrist ganglions can range in size from the diameter of a pea to around 2.5 cm. They can sometimes interfere with joint movement, and if pressing on a nearby nerve, can be painful.

*You should see a doctor if you notice an unexplained lump on your hand or wrist.

What causes a hand and wrist ganglion?

The cyst grows out from the lining of a tendon, or a joint, and appears like a little balloon. It tends to develop when the tissue surrounding a tendon or joint bulges. The liquid that is found inside a cyst is similar to the lubricating fluid which is found around tendons and in joints.

There are several risk factors associated to hand and wrist ganglions, including; being between 20 and 40 years old; osteoarthritis, especially in the finger joints; and having had a tendon or joint injury in the past.

Symptoms of a hand and wrist ganglion

Symptoms can include; pain, or tingling and numbness if the cyst presses on a nerve,

A hand and wrist ganglion is usually diagnosed via a physical exam, during which the doctor can apply pressure to the cyst as a test for discomfort and tenderness. A light may also be shined through the growth, to determine if it is filled with fluids or a solid mass. Imaging tests such as x-ray, ultrasound and an MRI scan may also be recommended in order to rule out other possible conditions. Many hand or wrist ganglion cysts are painless and require no treatment. Your surgeon may recommend waiting to see how the growth develops, and if there is any pain, discomfort, or restriction of movement.

Treatment options for a hand and wrist ganglion

Aspiration - which involves the use of a needle in order to suck out and assess the fluid in the cyst - can also be used in making a diagnosis, and also as a treatment.

Other treatment options include; immobilisation with a splint or brace, which can help to shrink the cyst and relieve pressure on the nerves; and surgery, which usually focuses on the removal of the cyst and stalk which attaches it to the tendon or joint.

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