Ganglion cysts are harmless and typically occur near the joints in the hands or wrists, as well as the ankles or feet. Though they don’t always cause pain, a ganglion cyst in the wrist may compress or irritate a nerve that passes through the joint, causing burning or tingling sensations.
However, you shouldn’t ignore any new lump or bump whether it causes pain or not. At Orthopedic & Wellness, our experienced physicians — Dr. Ojedapo Ojeyemi and Dr. Matthew Roh — specialize in diagnosing and treating many conditions that cause hand pain.
Here, we share with you the signs that you may have a ganglion wrist cyst and explain when you need to see an orthopedic surgeon about it.
A ganglion cyst is a fluid-filled lump that forms under the skin near joints and tendons. They most often affect the joints in the hands, wrist, and feet.
In the wrist, these fluid-filled lumps may appear on the top or underside of your joint. Ganglion cysts vary in size, but they tend to grow larger the more you use the joint and shrink when you limit joint activity.
Though researchers are still investigating what triggers the formation of a ganglion cyst, they theorize that it may be due to repetitive use and micro-injuries to the joint capsule and supportive tissue. These recurring, tiny injuries stimulate production of hyaluronic acid, which is a gel-like substance that lubricates the joint.
The excess hyaluronic acid accumulates in the joint, creating the lump.
If you have a visible lump under your skin on the top or underside of your wrist, you may have a ganglion wrist cyst. However, you can have small ganglion cysts that remain hidden under the skin at your wrist.
Most ganglion cysts cause no symptoms other than the lump. However, your cyst may pinch or compress a nerve as it passes through your joint, causing pain, tingling, or muscle weakness.
Even if your ganglion cyst causes no pain, don’t ignore any lumps or bumps that form under your skin. Schedule an appointment with your primary care provider so you can get an accurate diagnosis.
At Orthopedic & Wellness, we start with a nonsurgical approach when treating ganglion cysts. If your ganglion wrist cyst causes no symptoms, you may not need any treatment and the lump may go away on its own.
If your cyst causes mild symptoms, we may recommend wearing a wrist brace or splint to immobilize the joint. This can ease your symptoms and give your cyst an opportunity to resolve on its own.
When a ganglion wrist cyst causes severe pain or affects your ability to use your wrist, we may aspirate — drain the fluid — from your cyst with a needle.
Though these nonsurgical treatments often help, your ganglion wrist cyst may recur.
We recommend that you see an orthopedic surgeon if you have a recurring ganglion wrist cyst that causes pain and affects your ability to use your wrist. Our surgeon performs an excision that removes the entire cyst, including the root, which helps prevent a recurrence.
Recovery following surgery for a ganglion wrist cyst takes 2-6 weeks.
Anyone can develop a ganglion wrist cyst. If you have an unusual lump on your wrist, call our office — we have three convenient locations: in Frederick, Waldorf, and Germantown, Maryland — or use our online booking tool to schedule an appointment with our orthopedic surgeon today.