Ganglion Cysts of the Hand

Ganglion cysts are extremely common amongst all age groups. This is a fluid-filled space that forms around the joint and contains clear synovial fluid. This is the fluid that is contained within the joint capsule; a cyst develops when this fluid leaks out and accumulates over the affected joint of the tendon sheath.

What Causes a Ganglion Cyst to Form?

Injury to the joint such as a sprain is a likely cause of a ganglion cyst, but sometimes this cyst develops on its own without any predisposing factor.

Patients with osteoarthritis are also more likely to develop ganglion cysts on the joints of the fingers.

Where Are Ganglion Cysts Formed?

Ganglion cysts are usually formed on the back of the wrist joint. They can also be located on the joints of fingers especially the distal joint in patients with osteoarthritis. Sometimes the cyst forms on the palm of the hand or fingers along with the attachment of the tendons.

How Do Ganglion Cysts Present?

Typically a ganglion cyst will be a visible shiny swelling. Pain and tenderness is an uncommon finding, but there may be slight discomfort. The ganglion cyst also might change in size or even disappear completely on its own. The cysts are usually firm to touch, but some might be soft.

How Are Ganglion Cysts Diagnosed?

A careful history and examination are necessary to diagnose the cyst accurately. X-rays to rule out osteoarthritis and MRI scans to check for injuries to the ligaments may also be required in some cases.

How Are Ganglion Cysts Treated?

In many cases, the cyst will resolve on its own, and no treatment will be required. However, if the ganglion cyst is large enough to obstruct movement or is causing pain, then surgical excision may be necessary. There is a risk of recurrence involved after the ganglion cyst has been removed; a thorough surgical removal of the cyst will ensure that the cyst does not reappear.

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