Swellings in the Hand – Ganglions
Ganglion cysts are noncancerous lumps commonly arising from the tendons or joints of the wrist and hand. These cysts can usually be found on the top and palm side of the wrist, or the base of the fingers on the palm. They are usually filled with thick and clear fluid, also known as joint fluid, and are covered by a thick sheath. Depending on the size, ganglion cysts may feel firm or spongy. Some ganglion cysts may cause pain or numbness if they press on a nearby nerve, while some may interfere with joint movement due to the location they are at.
The cause of most ganglion cysts cases is unknown, but some may be related to arthritis or an inflammation around a tendon.
Signs And Symptoms
Most ganglion cysts develop along the tendons or joints of your wrists and hands, however the second most common location is the ankles or feet. Most ganglion cysts are round or oval and are usually small. The size of these cysts can sometimes fluctuate, and tend to get larger when the joints that they are on, are used for repetitive movements.
In general, ganglion cysts are painless, however they may cause pain if it is pressing on a nerve.
Hand specialists often conduct a physical examination, such as transillumination with a pen torch to make a diagnosis or applying pressure to the cyst to test for pain or discomfort. Sometimes an x-ray or ultrasound examination may be necessary to rule out other conditions such as bone or vascular anomalies.
Ganglion cysts are benign growths. Most of the time, no treatment is necessary if the ganglion cysts do not cause any pain or discomfort. Aspiration of the cyst is not advisable as the cyst often recurs and aspiration carries the risk of infection. Surgery is recommended if the lump becomes painful, increases in size and is associated with numbness. It involves removing the cyst and its surrounding membrane, as well as the extension of the cyst into the joint area. Ganglion cysts removed by aspiration have a higher recurrence rate as compared to surgically removing it.
Every case is different, hence it is best to consult a hand surgeon to determine the treatment method that is most suitable for you. Reach out to us today if you notice an abnormal growth over your wrist or hand area.