There are a variety of cysts that affect the health of the human body, many can be classified as benign and malignant. One of the most common cysts is the ganglion, also known as synovial cyst, which is a lump that grows on the wrists or hands.
That is why in this article we will discuss what a ganglion or synovial cyst is, what its diagnosis is, and the treatment for this protrusion.
Surely this information will be useful to you!
What is a synovial ganglion or cyst?
Synovial cysts or ganglions are very common masses (lumps), sometimes growing on the hand and wrist.
Ganglions are usually found on the top of the wrist, the palm side of the wrist or the last joint of a finger, (mucosal cyst), and at the base of a finger.
Synovial cysts or ganglions usually originate from neighboring joints or tendon sheaths. There is no specific cause, but they tend to form in tendon inflammation, arthritis, or trauma injuries.
These cysts can be painful especially when they first appear or with constant and demanding use of the hand. Ganglions often change in size, but can also disappear completely. These cysts are not malignant (cancerous).
How is this lump diagnosed?
A Wrist ganglion may appear A, back of the hand or B, front (palm).
The diagnosis of a ganglion is usually based on where it is located and what it looks like. It is recommended that an x-ray be taken to rule out injury to neighboring joints. The ultrasound is useful to establish the origin, volume of the ganglion, as well as the existence of accessory ganglions and to locate hidden ganglions.
What are the most common signs and symptoms?
It may or may not be painful. They are typically oval or round, soft or very firm. Those that appear at the base of the fingers in the palm are called retinacular and are very firm, less than 0.5 mm, originate from the pulley of the tendon, and are painful to the pressure of the grip of objects.
The mucoid ganglions in the last joint of the fingers are associated with interphalangeal osteoarthrosis and can affect the growth of the nail.
What is the treatment?
The treatment of a synovial cyst or ganglion could be simply the observation of any change. However, if the cyst is painful, limits activity or its appearance is unacceptable to the patient, another treatment may be recommended. Treatment may include surgical removal of the ganglion.
The goal of surgery is to eliminate the source of the cyst. This may require the removal of a piece of the joint capsule or tendon sheath near the node (Angelid Technique), and/or resolving its primary cause, such as osteoarthrosis.
If the ganglion is removed from the wrist, a splint may be recommended for the post-operative period. Some patients may feel pain, discomfort, and swelling at the surgery site, some longer than others, but full activity can be resumed once the discomfort subsides.
Even though surgery offers the best results in terms of success in the extraction of the ganglions, these cysts can recur in 1 to 9% of the cases.
Now that you know what a ganglion or synovial cyst is, how it is diagnosed and treated, remember that any lump or bump must be examined.
If you have symptoms, go to a medical specialist, ask for more information by clicking here.
Dr. Rodrigo F. Bolaños G.
Hand Surgeon and Senior Member Orthopedics and Traumatology
American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons – AAOS, Asociación Guatemalteca de Ortopedia y Traumatología – AGOT, Association for Osteosynthesis - A.O. Trauma
1. Courtesy of Griffin LY (ed): Essentials of Musculoskeletal Care. 3rd Ed. Rosemont, IL. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, 2005.