Osteoarthritis can severely impact the movement of your joints. Simply getting around can be a chore, and so can typing, holding onto objects, cooking, and cleaning. In some cases, arthritis in the hands can result in the formation of mucous cysts of the fingers. At The Hand Center at Crawford Plastic Surgery, Dr. Steven Bailey helps patients throughout the greater Atlanta, GA area deal with arthritis of the hands; he offers advanced options for dealing with mucous cysts should they develop and if treatment is deemed necessary.

What Are Mucous Cysts?

Mucous cysts are fluid-filled sacs that form on the fingers. Typically, the mucous cyst forms near the last the joint of the finger, often located close to the fingernail. Mucous cysts are common in people who suffer from osteoarthritis and are between 50 to 70 years old. If a mucous cyst ruptures, it's possible for the joint to become infected, resulting in serious pain and discomfort.

Symptoms of Mucous Cysts

The most common symptom of mucous cyst is the appearance of a small bump near the fingernail. It's also possible for a small groove to form in the fingernail just above the site of the cyst. While most mucous cysts are painless, some cysts may be painful when touched.

Causes of Mucous Cysts

While mucous cysts are common in people who suffer from osteoarthritis, the exact cause of the condition is unknown. There is one theory that the cysts form in response to the breakdown of connective tissue. The collagen left behind pools into the cyst, moving away from the location of the joint. Bone spurs related to osteoarthritis may also contribute to the formation of a mucous cyst.

Types of Mucous Cysts

There are two types of mucous cysts. The most common type is a mucous extravasation cyst, which is surrounded by granulation tissue. The less common type is a mucous retention cyst, which has an epithelial lining.

Mucous Cyst Diagnosis

When diagnosing mucous cysts, we perform a full examination, taking X-rays of the affected finger or fingers. The X-rays will help identify any degeneration in the fingers related to osteoarthritis, as well as any bone spurs and related issues.

Treatment of Mucous Cysts

There are surgical and non-surgical treatments for mucous cysts depending on the needs of the patient. If the mucous cysts do not cause any pain or discomfort, treatment may not even be necessary.

For painful mucous cysts, recurring drainage and aspiration may be recommended. Surgical removal of the mucous cyst is also a possibility, and it only requires anesthetic of the hand or arm to perform. This surgery will eliminate the cyst and any pain associated with the cyst itself. Patients should note that while painful mucous cysts are removed, the joint pain related to osteoarthritis will remain.

Recovery after Mucous Cyst Treatment

Following non-surgical treatment of a mucous cyst, careful monitoring is recommended to ensure infections do not occur. After surgical removal of a mucous cyst, patients can expect to wear a small splint or cast on the finger for two weeks. Topical and oral antibiotics may be prescribed to address the risk of joint infection if needed.

Contact The Hand Center at Crawford Plastic Surgery to learn more about mucous cysts and the treatment options available.