Ganglions & Cysts
Ganglions are fluid-filled cysts commonly found on the tendons and joints of the wrists or hands. They may develop suddenly or over time and appear as a small, raised lump near your wrist or finger joints. While ganglions are usually benign and harmless, cysts may put pressure on nearby nerves, potentially causing pain, weakness or numbness.
The specific cause of ganglions is unknown, although they tend to occur in patients with osteoarthritis, and are most common in women between the ages of 25 and 45. They often occur spontaneously when the soft sheath around a tendon or joint swells and fills with mucus.
Despite the lack of complications associated with ganglion cysts, you should still seek medical attention if you notice a lump on your wrist or hand. Treatment is not always necessary, but many wish to have the cyst removed for cosmetic reasons or to relieve pain that has developed over time. Ganglions can be treated through a variety of methods, depending on the size and severity of the cyst. Some of these treatments include:
Immobilization – Resting the wrist or wearing a splint can often release pressure on the nerves to relieve pain, and also decrease the size of the cyst.
Aspiration – This minimally invasive procedure involves draining the fluid from the cyst with a syringe. Local anesthetic is applied and may be combined with a steroid injection to help fully heal the area. This treatment is not always permanent and many ganglions return after aspiration.
Surgery – Surgery may be recommended for cysts that are very painful or interfere with joint movement. Ganglion surgery is performed under a local anesthetic and involves complete removal of the cyst and any attached tissue to ensure permanent treatment. Physical therapy may be recommended after surgery in order to rehabilitate the hand or wrist.
Dr. Birndorf can help you decide which treatment option is best for you.