Ganglion Cysts of the Hand

Ganglion cysts of the hand are lumps that form under the surface of the skin. These cysts are usually non-cancerous, benign, and small in size. Though if left unchecked, ganglion cysts can enlarge to produce numerous uncomfortable, or even painful, symptoms in the hand and fingers. 

Cause of Ganglion Cysts of the Hand

Even though many people develop ganglion cysts each year, there is not a known cause for this condition. These cysts typically grow in a joint or joint lining, enlarging as they fill up with fluid. Ganglion cysts are more likely to occur in people with certain risk factors, including:

  • Age — People are most likely to develop ganglion cysts when they are between 20 and 40 years old;
  • Gender — Ganglion cysts are more likely to develop in women than men;
  • Arthritis — People with osteoarthritis from wear and tear on their joints are more likely to develop ganglion cysts; and
  • Trauma — Previous injuries or trauma to the hand can lead to the development of ganglion cysts.

Symptoms of Ganglion Cysts of the Hand

When ganglion cysts develop in the hand or fingers, the symptoms are usually limited. A large or small lump will form, whether visible above the skin or hidden beneath. Most of these cysts are relatively painless. 

But if the ganglion cyst compresses a nerve, it is a different story. At that point, patients may experience tingling, numbness, or loss of sensation in the hand. Shooting pain that radiates up the arm and into the neck can also occur. 

Diagnosis of Ganglion Cysts of the Hand

To diagnose a ganglion of the hand, a doctor will often start by inspecting the cyst itself. The patient’s medical history is also relevant in this context. Then, an MRI or ultrasound might provide an even better picture of what is happening beneath the skin. X-rays are not usually necessary to identify ganglion cysts. 

Treatment of Ganglion Cysts of the Hand

A doctor might suggest one or several of the treatment methods below to alleviate the symptoms of a ganglion cyst of the hand:

  • Observe the ganglion cyst and monitor for further symptoms;
  • Immobilize the affected hand with a splint or brace to allow symptoms to regress;
  • Perform physical/occupational therapy to strengthen muscles and improve mobility;
  • Drain fluid from the ganglion cyst through aspiration; or
  • Conduct surgical excision to remove the ganglion cyst.

For severe ganglion cysts that require surgery, it is usually conducted on an outpatient basis. So the patient can ordinarily go home the same day as the procedure. Thereafter, it can take six weeks or more to recover from surgical excision of a ganglion cyst. 

Obtain Medical Help for Ganglion Cysts of the Hand

For any person with the painful signs or symptoms of osteoarthritis, it can be highly advantageous to contact a trustworthy orthopaedic physician for assistance. At the Orthopaedic Associates of Riverside, our board-certified physicians have practical skill and knowledge in orthopaedic medicine, including treatment of osteoarthritis. If you need medical care for any type of orthopaedic condition, contact us today to schedule a consultation with our team.

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