A ganglion cyst occurs as a lump in the hand or wrist. The cysts vary in size, may become painful and sometimes disappear on their own. If a cyst exists, it will be round first and may be painful when you put pressure on it. Ganglion cyst treatment depends on the location of the cyst and your unique condition; here’s what you need to know.
Ganglion Cyst Treatment Options
Most ganglion cysts don’t require treatment as they come and go on their own. Treatment is only considered an option if there is excessive pain at the site or one has cosmetic concerns. Most doctors usually recommend a wait-and-watch approach, after which they will continue monitoring your situation and watch for the growth of the cyst and the development of symptoms like pain. In many cases, your ganglion cyst will go away on its own. However, if it doesn’t and becomes painful, your doctor may recommend the following ganglion cyst treatment options:
This involves using a brace or splint to support the wrist. This helps release the pressure the cyst is causing on the nerves, alleviates pain and, in some cases, shrinks the ganglion cyst. Your doctor may recommend special hand exercises to strengthen your wrist muscles as the pain reduces. Treatment is only recommended if the cyst causes pain or affects your joint range of motion.
Aspiration is simply draining fluid out of the ganglion cysts using a needle and syringe. Aspiration is carried out on an outpatient basis. Your doctor will use a needle and syringe to remove as much fluid and content from the ganglion as possible. The doctor might then inject the area with steroid medication to prevent the cyst from returning.
After the procedure, the doctor places a plaster over the small hole in the skin, which is removed after about 6 hours. Aspiration is simple and painless, and you’ll be able to go home the same day. It is often the first line of ganglion cyst treatment before opting for invasive surgery.
Ganglion Cyst Surgery
There are two ways surgery may be performed – open surgery and arthroscopy. The surgeon makes a medium-sized incision over the affected tendon or joint in open surgery. They will then remove the cyst with its root. Arthroscopy or keyhole surgery involves a smaller incision. The doctor then uses a tiny camera known as an arthroscope to look inside the joint.
Using the small camera as a guide, the hand specialist then passes surgical instruments through the hole to remove the cyst. Your doctor can perform both techniques under local or general anaesthesia. The choice of technique depends mostly on where the cyst is located and what your surgeon thinks will yield the best results.
What Happens After Ganglion Cyst Surgery?
The surgeon will stitch up the incision and bandage the area to keep it clean and reduce the risk of infection. The resulting wound is not usually painful since surgery involves making a small incision, but your doctor may prescribe painkillers if you feel any discomfort. After the surgery, you may need to wear a sling for the first few days to keep your hand safe from accidental knocks and reduce swelling and discomfort.
Move your fingers regularly to keep your joints flexible. The surgery will leave a small scar that can be thick and red. For some people, the skin around the incision remains numb for some time after the procedure. There will also be a little bruising, but it should fade in a few days. There is a small risk of temporary swelling, stiffness and pain after the procedure. How much time you need off work depends on the nature of your job. If your work involves using your hands or wrist most of the time, you may need to take a few weeks off work to recover.
What are Common Complications of Ganglion Cyst Surgery?
Removing ganglion cysts is a minor procedure, so complications are usually rare. However, some people experience permanent pain and stiffness following the surgery. If you have the procedure under general anaesthesia, there is also a small risk of anaesthesia complications.
Your doctor will conduct some pre-assessment tests before the procedure to ensure your risks are as low as possible. Even after surgery, there is a chance that the ganglion cyst may come back, especially if the cyst is located in certain areas of your wrist.
If you think you might have a ganglion cyst or have had treatment, but the cyst has returned, get in touch with a specialist at the Harley Clinic to discuss your treatment options.
Are you interested in learning about popular cosmetic procedures in the UK? Consider going through our comprehensive guide on plastic surgery statistics.