FORM Hand, Wrist & Elbow Institute

Ganglion Cysts

Ganglion Cyst Infographics Diagram

Ganglion cysts are bumps that occur on the hand and wrist but most frequently develop on the back of the wrist. The lumps are noncancerous swellings that arise when synovial fluid leaks from the joints or tendons and form a cyst on the hand or wrist.

Ganglion cysts vary in size and may grow larger with increased wrist activity. With rest, they typically go away on their own. However, if the cyst is painful or interferes with function, there are treatment options available.

Causes of Ganglion Cysts

It is not clear what causes ganglion cysts; however, they are most common in people between the ages of 15 and 40 years. Women are more more likely to get them than men.

Mucous cysts or ganglion cysts that form at the end joint of a finger are typically associated with arthritis in the finger joint, affecting women between the ages of 40 and 70 years.

Symptoms of Ganglion Cysts

Symptoms of ganglion cysts may include hand and wrist pain and/or pressure, disfigurement of the hand, and difficulty with hand and wrist movement. Ganglion cysts will either disappear on their own over time or get bigger. If ganglion cysts get bigger, they may cause pressure and/or pain in the wrist or hand.

Diagnosing Ganglion Cysts

During your consultation, Dr. Besh will ask you questions about your medical history, your symptoms, and how long you have had the cysts, and if they have changed in size.

As part of the physical exam, he may apply pressure to the ganglion to identify any tenderness. He will also examine the cyst to see if it is filled with fluid.

Additionally, imaging tests, such as an x-ray, may be ordered to rule out any other conditions such as arthritis or a bone tumor. An MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan may be ordered to show soft tissues like a ganglion better. An MRI can also distinguish a cyst from other tumors.

Treatment for Ganglion Cysts

There are both non-surgical and surgical treatment options available for ganglion cysts.

Non-surgical treatment options may include:

Observation. Since ganglion cysts are not cancerous and may disappear over time, Dr. Besh may recommend just waiting and watching to see if there are any changes.

Immobilization. Dr. Besh will have you immobilize your wrist with a splint or brace to restrict wrist movement. Restricting activity will help to decrease the size of the cyst and relieve pressure on nerves causing pain.

Physical Therapy. After you have immobilized your wrist with a splint or brace, Dr. Besh will recommend physical therapy (hand therapy) to strengthen and improve your range of motion.

Needle Aspiration. If the cyst is painful or restricting activity, Dr. Besh will perform a needle aspiration. This involves numbing the area around the cyst and then puncturing the cyst to drain any fluid. A ganglion cyst may return after needle aspiration because aspiration doesn’t remove the root of the cyst.

Surgical treatment options are recommended for patients if their symptoms are not relieved by non-surgical methods or if the ganglion returns after aspiration.

If the ganglion cyst returns after aspiration, Dr. Besh will perform minimally invasive surgery to remove the cyst and the joint capsule or tendon sheath, which is considered the root of the ganglion. This procedure is performed on an outpatient basis.

Patients can resume normal activities within 2 to 6 weeks after surgery.

Ganglion Cysts Treatment in Fremont, CA

If your symptoms or pain from a ganglion cyst worsen over time, It is important to get it checked out by Dr. Besh.

Please call FORM Hand, Wrist & Elbow at (510) 598-3834 to schedule an appointment. For your convenience, you may also request an appointment online. We offer same-day or next-day appointments.

Dr. Besh is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon specializing in Hand, Wrist, and Elbow conditions. He is one of the few hand surgeons in Silicon Valley with the Subspecialty Certificate in Surgery of the Hand. He has over 15 years of experience focused on orthopedic hand conditions.

Dr. Besh is an expert in his field in both surgical and nonsurgical interventions. He provides thorough and accurate diagnoses and recommends the best treatment for your condition to assure maximal recovery.

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