That lump on the top of your wrist may look intimidating and you may fear the worst, but chances are it is a ganglion cyst. These bumps are nowhere near as dangerous as they may appear. In fact, this particular type of cyst is never precancerous. It may begin as a small swelling on the top of your wrist no larger than the size of a pea. The largest of these cysts may grow to be about 2.5 centimeters or an inch in diameter.
A Fluid-filled Nuisance
You are most likely to find a ganglion cyst along the joints of your wrists or hands. In fact, about 60% to 70% of them develop on the front or the back of the wrist. They can also develop along the tendons and sometimes show up in the joints of the ankles or feet. These round or oval cysts are filled with a jellylike substance and seldom cause pain unless they are pressing on a nerve.
The ganglion cyst poses no real health problem other than it may be uncomfortable. If the cyst is large enough to be noticeable, it could be annoying from an aesthetic point of view.
Diagnosing the Ganglion Cyst
Your doctor may palpitate the cyst to check for tenderness or pain. Even though it is filled with fluid, the lump will be firm and will move slightly when pushed. Sometimes a light is used to determine if the cyst is fluid-filled or a solid mass.
Ganglion cysts may shrink on their own. They do have a tendency to get larger and smaller as the level of fluid changes. A cyst can leak or break, and the fluid will be resorbed by the body. It may refill and start growing again.
Decades ago, these were called Bible Cysts because the standard treatment was to smack the bump with a bible or thick book. This would cause it to break and thus disappear – at least for a while. Even though this method was somewhat effective, the possibility of doing damage to other structures in the wrist and risking damage to the joint is not worth the effort.
If the cyst is worrisome or painful, one treatment option is aspiration, in which your doctor will take a syringe and drain the fluid. You may need to have this done a few times before it stops refilling. Surgery is another option, and is sometimes required if the cyst is pressing on a nerve, causing pain and does not respond to more conservative methods.
A ganglion cyst can be unsightly and uncomfortable. At Caliber Pain,™ we can help alleviate the pain and discomfort. Contact our team for more information or to schedule an appointment for non-invasive treatment for your ganglion cyst.