What to do About Your Ganglion Cyst

What to do About Your Ganglion Cyst

Has a hard lump appeared on your wrist? Even if it doesn’t hurt, you may need to have it checked by a doctor, as it could be a ganglion cyst. These fluid-filled sacs account for 60-70% of soft tissue masses found in the wrist. 

At CHOICE Pain & Rehabilitation Center, with multiple locations in Maryland, our team of board-certified physical medicine and rehabilitation specialists can diagnose and recommend the appropriate treatment for a ganglion cyst or any other cause of wrist, arm, or hand pain.

Ganglion cyst basics

A ganglion cyst is a noncancerous lump that is round or oval and located near a joint or around a tendon. They are most common on the wrist or hand, although they can appear on the feet and ankles as well. 

Ganglion cysts can be anywhere from a half centimeter to two and a half centimeters (about an inch) in diameter. They are generally filled with a fluid-like jelly.

Ganglion cysts often don’t hurt at first, and they may never hurt. However, if they grow large enough and are in the right spot, they can press on a nerve and cause stabbing pain, or they can interfere with joint movement.

Causes of ganglion cysts

The direct cause of ganglion cysts is unknown, but there are risk factors that can increase the chances of developing the condition. 

Sex 

Women are three times more likely to develop ganglion cysts than men.

Age

Most ganglion cysts develop in patients who are ages 20-40.

Osteoarthritis

In older patients, ganglion cysts typically show up in osteoarthritis finger joints. 

Old injuries

Having a past joint or tendon injury can increase your chances of developing a ganglion cyst.

Diagnosis and treatment

First, we’ll examine the lump. We may confirm you have a ganglion cyst by drawing out some of the liquid in the cyst with a fine needle. Or, we may ultrasound your wrist if the cyst is very close to a vein or nerve.

In many cases, ganglion cysts can be monitored at home. It’s possible for the cyst to shrink and disappear without any treatment, so if it isn’t growing larger and isn’t painful, we may recommend you keep an eye on it and book another appointment with us if anything changes.

If the cyst keeps growing or is causing pain, we may recommend removing the fluid with a needle and giving a steroid injection to reduce the inflammation. This treatment can be effective, but it doesn’t guarantee the cyst won’t come back. 

For extreme cases, we might recommend surgery to remove the cyst and tissues it is attached to. We’ll normally only do this if the cyst is causing unmanageable pain and/or is interfering with normal joint function. 

If you have a ganglion cyst and want treatment, or if you want to see if you have a ganglion cyst, book an appointment online or over the phone with CHOICE Pain & Rehabilitation Center today. Our Maryland offices are located in Hyattsville, Gaithersburg, Lanham, Dundalk, Oxon Hill, Rosedale, and Olney, and we have two offices in Baltimore.

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