You notice a sore and swollen lump of tissue on the backside of the wrist. It is painful, dense, and cannot be moved with pressure. If you have these symptoms, there is a good chance you are seeing the development of a ganglion cyst. These small, fluid-filled tissue masses can develop in various laces in the hand, but are most common at the joints of the wrist. They can change shape, appear and disappear, and in many cases are completely harmless. However, there are many people who see these cysts develop and experience a great amount of pain. Here are a few of the most common questions and concerns about ganglion cysts.
Are ganglion cysts associated with arthritic problems in the joints?
The cause of ganglion cysts is not clear. However, there is speculation that this is due to overexertion of specific joints in the hand. The development may be related to osteoarthritis as this can cause tiny tears in the joints and tendons, leaving them more vulnerable to other issues.
When is surgery to remove these cysts an option?
In most cases, an orthopedic surgeon will not recommend surgery unless the ganglion cyst is causing pain or hindering the mobility of the joint, which is possible. Other routes of treatment may be tried before surgery. Some of the more common non-surgical treatments include:
- Immobilization to keep the wrist immobile and allow time for the cyst to recede on its own.
- Aspiration to drain fluid from the cyst with a needle.
If you have the cyst removed, will it come back?
The orthopedic surgery that is sometimes performed to move the ganglion cyst involves removing not just the cyst, but also part of the joint capsule where the cysts is located. Excision of the cyst removes the stem of development, and therefore, the cyst will likely not come back in the same spot. However, ganglion cysts can occur at various points of the wrist and fingers.
Are ganglion cysts cancerous?
Ganglion cysts are benign masses of fluid. They do not contain cancerous cells. In fact, the cysts are pretty harmless other than they can be unsightly and put pressure on the joints of your wrist.
If you believe that you have spotted a ganglion cyst on your wrist or hands, it is best to talk to an orthopedic surgeon for advice. In many cases, these cysts occur in people who are relatively young and are often disregarded. However, proper attention and diagnosis is a necessity.