Some people develop lumps or bumps on the hand or on the wrist. In many cases, this is the result of a ganglion cyst, a non-cancerous and often harmless growth. Yet these cysts may affect the movement and use of the wrist, making treatment necessary. Many people in the greater Atlanta, GA area who've experienced ganglion cysts have come to The Hand Center at Crawford Plastic Surgery to find out if they can have their cyst removed by our esteemed surgeon, Dr. Steven Bailey.

What Is a Ganglion Cyst?

A ganglion cyst is a non-cancerous tumor that typically appears on the back of the wrist along the tendons and joints of the hand. It is the most common type of growth on the hand. A ganglion cyst can be as small as a pebble, though typically the cyst is an inch in diameter. If a ganglion cyst develops near a nerve or too close to certain structures of the wrist, it can cause pain or interfere with joint movement.

While ganglion cysts are most common on the back of the wrist, they can also develop at the base of the fingers, at the fingertips, around the knees and ankles, and on the top of the feet. Ganglion cysts are most common among people between the ages of 20 and 40, and they are more likely to develop in women than men.

Symptoms of Ganglion Cysts

Some of the most common symptoms of ganglion cysts include:

  • Appearance of a growth near the wrist
  • Swelling that fluctuates at the wrist
  • Pain in the wrist or hand
  • Tingling in the hand or fingers
  • Weakness in the hand or fingers

If a ganglion cyst impairs hand movement, causes pain, or leads to issues with the use of the hands or fingers, it's a good idea to have it examined by a general practitioner or a hand doctor.

Causes of Ganglion Cysts

The exact cause of ganglion cysts is still unknown. Some medical professionals suggest that these cysts form in response to a joint or tendon bulging outward from its normal position.

Ganglion Cyst Diagnosis

When diagnosing a ganglion cyst, we will discuss the issues the patient has experienced with the growth, such as changes in the size of the growth and symptoms associated with the cyst. X-rays will be taken to determine if the cyst is related to another condition affecting the hand or wrist. Ultrasounds or MRIs may also be considered to detect ganglion cysts that are not visible on the surface of the skin.

Treatment of Ganglion Cysts

Most ganglion cysts can be treated through non-surgical means. If the ganglion cyst doesn't cause any pain or joint problems, the best option tends to involve regular observation. In some cases, the cyst will disappear on its own. A wrist brace may be recommended to help reduce the size of the cyst. Painful ganglion cysts can be professionally drained (aspiration), though they may eventually return.

If a painful ganglion cyst does not respond to non-surgical treatments, surgery can be performed to remove the cyst. The excision procedure will involve removal of the ganglion cyst and removal of part of the tendon sheath or joint capsule that the cyst is rooted to.

Recovery after Ganglion Cyst Excision Surgery

Following a ganglion cyst excision, patients will want to get ample rest and avoid activities that place excessive stress on the wrist and hand. Normal activities can be resumed between two to six weeks after surgery depending on the rate of patient recovery.

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