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Ganglions (cysts) of the Wrist

Cysts are swollen bags filled with air or fluid that may arise in various body parts. Ganglion cyst is a swelling that most commonly develops along the tendons or joints of your wrists or hands. They can be found at the top of the wrist, palm side of the wrist, end joint of a finger, or at the base of a finger. Ganglion cysts are not cancerous and will not spread to other parts of your body. It looks like a water balloon on a stalk and contains a clear fluid or jellylike material. Ganglion cysts can be found in people of all ages.

The cause of a ganglion cyst remains unknown; however, some theories believe that small cysts can form when trauma damages the tissue of a joint. The most likely theory states that these cysts occur because of a defect in the joint capsule or tendon sheath that permits the joint tissue to protrude outwards.

Ganglion cysts generally appear as a mass from 1 to 3 centimeters in diameter. The swelling is usually soft and immobile. It may develop suddenly or gradually over time, vary in size or even disappear or reappear. Ganglion cyst may or may not be painful. If painful, the pain may be continuous and may worsen by moving the joint. The cyst can make the affected area feel weaker if attached to a tendon.

To diagnose a ganglion cyst your doctor will perform a physical examination. A ganglion cyst diagnosis is confirmed by needle aspiration or ultrasound. Needle aspiration is a process in which your doctor uses a syringe to draw out some of the fluid in the cyst. Ultrasound can help to find whether a ganglion cyst is solid or fluid filled or involves a blood vessel or artery. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of your wrist may also be useful for diagnosing ganglions.

An old home remedy for a ganglion cyst consist of various poultices, topical plaster, heat, and smashing the cyst with a heavy book (bible therapy). These forms of treatment are no more recommended because the cyst may grow back after treatment and could cause further injury. In many cases, these cysts may disappear spontaneously without any treatment. Aspiration can be performed to drain the fluid from the cyst using a needle. After aspiration, a steroid compound is injected into the empty cyst and a splint is placed to immobilize the area. If the cyst becomes painful or limits your activity or causes numbness or tingling of the hand or fingers, your doctor may recommend surgery to remove the ganglion cyst.

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Houston Wrist and Hand Specialists

The physicians at Advanced Orthopedics and Sports medicine who specialize in wrist, hand, and elbow treatment are recognized globally for their expertise.

Contact us today to Schedule an Appointment or call us at 281-955-2650 to learn more about our Wrist and Hand Treatment options.

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