Ganglion cysts are benign lumps that form on or near joints and tendons, often on the wrist or hand. They are non-cancerous and generally harmless, but they can be unsightly and cause discomfort or pain if they press against nerves or interfere with joint movement.
In this article, top Detroit hand doctor Dr. Uzma Rehman discusses who is most likely to get a ganglion cyst, what causes them, how they are diagnosed, and the various treatment options available.
Who Gets Ganglion Cysts
Ganglion cysts are most commonly seen in younger adults between 15 and 40 years old. They are more common in women than men, and the risk of developing them increases with age. Ganglion cysts are also more common in people who regularly use their hands and wrists, such as athletes, manual laborers, and musicians.
Causes of Ganglion Cysts
The exact cause of ganglion cysts is not well understood, but they are believed to develop due to a combination of factors, including joint or tendon injury, repetitive motion, and joint or tendon inflammation. Some hand doctors also believe that ganglion cysts may be caused by a defect in the joint capsule or tendon sheath that allows the synovial fluid to leak out and form a cyst.
Diagnosing Ganglion Cysts
A hand doctor can diagnose a ganglion cyst by examining the lump and asking the patient about their symptoms. The lump is usually round, firm, and located near a joint or tendon, and it may be painful or tender to the touch. The hand doctor may also perform imaging tests such as an X-ray or MRI to confirm the diagnosis and rule out other conditions, such as a tumor or arthritis.
Treating Ganglion Cysts
Most ganglion cysts do not require treatment and will often disappear on their own over time. However, if the cyst is causing pain or interfering with joint movement, you should see a hand doctor because there are several treatment options available.
If the ganglion cyst is small and not causing any symptoms, the doctor may recommend watchful waiting. This involves monitoring the cyst over time and waiting to see if it disappears on its own. The doctor may also recommend avoiding activities that aggravate the cyst or wearing a brace or splint to support the affected joint.
Some people may prefer to try home remedies to reduce the pain and discomfort associated with ganglion cysts. Applying a warm compress or soaking the affected area in warm water may help to reduce inflammation and relieve pain. Over-the-counter pain medications such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen may also be effective.
Aspiration involves draining the fluid from the cyst using a needle and syringe. The doctor will first numb the area with a local anesthetic and then insert the needle into the cyst. Once the fluid is drained, the doctor may inject a corticosteroid medication into the cyst to reduce inflammation and prevent it from re-filling with fluid. Aspiration is a quick and relatively painless procedure, but the cyst may return in some cases.
Surgery may be recommended if the cyst is causing severe pain or interfering with joint movement, or if it keeps coming back after aspiration. During surgery, the cyst is removed along with the surrounding joint capsule or tendon sheath. This is usually done under local anesthesia, and the patient can usually go home the same day. Surgery is generally safe and effective, but there is a small risk of infection or nerve damage.
Preventing Ganglion Cysts
There is no surefire way to prevent ganglion cysts, but there are some steps you can take to reduce your risk. These include avoiding repetitive motions that put stress on the joints and tendons.
If you participate in activities that put you at risk for hand or wrist injuries, such as contact sports or manual labor, wear protective gear like wrist guards or gloves to try and help reduce the risk of developing ganglion cysts.
Maintaining good posture and ergonomics when performing activities that involve the hands and wrists can help reduce the risk of developing ganglion cysts, as well. This includes using ergonomic keyboards and mice, adjusting your workspace to be at the appropriate height, and taking frequent breaks to rest your hands and wrists.
Top Detroit Area Hand Doctor | Ganglion Cysts
Ganglion cysts are fluid filled lumps that form on or near joints and tendons, typically on the wrist or hand. While they are non-cancerous, they can be unsightly, as well as painful and interfere with joint movement.
If you live in the greater Detroit area, and you are experiencing a lump or bump on your hand or wrist, schedule an appointment with top Detroit area hand doctor Dr. Uzma Rehman today. She can diagnose your condition and offer treatments that will relieve your pain and provide you with the best possible outcome.