Why do you have a lump on your wrist?
Your typing away on your keyboard and happen to look down. On your wrist, you notice a small bump. You gently press on it causing it to move, but it doesn’t hurt. Where did it come from? Should you be concerned? Is there anything you can do to get rid of it?
Ganglion cysts are lumps that form out of a joint or lining of a tendon. They most often occur in the wrists or hands but can appear in the ankles or feet or any other joint. The exact cause isn’t known. They seem to arise when the tissue surrounding a joint or tendon bulges out of place because inside the cyst is the same thick, lubricating, jelly-like fluid found in joints and around tendons. The cysts look like tiny water balloons on a stalk and might not be visible. When they are perceptible, they tend to be round or oval in shape, measuring less than an inch in diameter. The size can fluctuate depending on your use of the area—they tend to get larger when you make repetitive motions to the affected region. Typically, ganglion cysts are painless unless they put pressure on a nerve. If this happens, you might feel pain, tingling, numbness, or muscle weakness.
While anyone can develop a ganglion cyst, certain things can increase your chances of developing one. They’re more likely to transpire in women who are between the ages of 20 – 40. Also, individuals who have osteoarthritis of their finger joints are at an elevated risk of acquiring one at those spots. Other factors that raise the possibility of getting a cyst are previous injuries to a joint or tendon. The good news is that usually, there aren’t any complications involved with ganglion cysts.
Since ganglion cysts are typically painless, they generally don’t require treatment. If it’s causing pain or interferes with your ability to move the affected joint, your doctor will recommend a few different treatment options. The first is to immobilize the affected joint since activity can make the cysts larger and cause pain. To do this, you might need to use a brace or splint. As the cyst decrease in size, the pressure on your nerve should lessen, which will result in a reduction in pain. It’s vital to not wear the splint for a long time since this can cause your muscles to weaken. You can also take over-the-counter pain medication, such as ibuprofen or naproxen. If the cyst is on your foot or ankle, it’s a good idea to alter how you tie your shoes because this can lessen the pressure on the cyst.
Another treatment option is for your doctor to remove the fluid with a needle. It’s important to keep in mind that the cyst can reappear after the procedure. If neither of these options work, your doctor might propose having surgery to remove the cyst and stalk that attaches it to the joint or tendon. Even if this is done, it might reemerge at some point in the future.
In the past, an old home remedy was to take a heavy object and hit the ganglion cyst to pop it. While this might make the cyst disappear, it could also damage tissue and other surrounding structures. Some people have also tried to puncture the cyst with a needle. This usually isn’t effective and can result in infection. So, don’t try to remove the cyst by yourself, but see a doctor instead.
Unfortunately, there isn’t anything that you can do to prevent a ganglion cyst from occurring or reoccurring. One thing to keep in mind is to take care of your joints and tendons so you’ll be less likely to end up with osteoarthritis or injuries that can precipitate them forming. If you have a ganglion cyst, don’t try to get rid of it yourself because this can lead to other problems, like infection or tissue damage.
Ganglion cysts aren’t usually a big problem for most people. If yours is bothersome, there are treatment options for it. If you have any questions or concerns about ganglion cysts, please speak with your doctor. If you would like more information, please visit the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeon’s ganglion cyst page at https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases–conditions/ganglion-cyst-of-the-wrist-and-hand/