Ganglion Cyst

by | Apr 13, 2022 | Blog

A ganglion is a sac-like swelling or cyst formed from the tissue that lines a joint or tendon. The tissue, called synovium, normally functions to produce lubricating fluid for these areas. A ganglion is a cyst formed by the synovium that is filled with a thick jelly-like fluid. It has many different symptoms: it may be soft or hard; be painful or painless; or get bigger or smaller on its own. While ganglia can follow local trauma to the tendon or joint, they usually form for unknown reasons.  Joint movement can be affected depending on the size and location of the ganglion and they can sometimes compress on other tissues (such as nerves) and create another symptoms

Common sites for ganglions are:

  • The wrist – on the back (“dorsal wrist ganglion”), on the front (“volar wrist ganglion”), or sometimes on the thumb side. These come from one of the wrist joints, sometimes aggravated by a wrist sprain.
  • The palm at the base of the finger (“flexor tendon sheath cyst”). These come from the tube which holds the finger tendons in place, and are often due to tendon irritation – tendinitis

The Risk Factors for developing a ganglion

  • Injury to the wrist or finger joint.
  • Inflammation or irritation in the tendons or joints.
  • Repetitive activities that use the wrists and fingers.
  • Chronic illness, such as arthritis.
  • Age. Ganglia are more common between the ages of 20 – 50 years

What can a therapist do to help conservatively?

  • Massage, heat, and other treatments aimed at reducing pain and improving mobility.
  • Splinting and compression wraps can also be used to help alleviate pain during particular aggravating activities.
  • There is some (although sparce) research that suggests compression wraps and splinting may reduce the size of the ganglion.

What can a doctor do to help?

  • Confirm that this is the problem.
  • Drain the cyst with a needle and possibly inject the area with cortisone. This works much better for cysts coming from the tendon than those coming from joints.
  • Perform surgery to remove the cyst and clean out the area where the cyst comes from.

Hand therapy after your operation:

  • Your surgeon may recommend a few sessions with a hand therapist after the operation.
  • The hand therapist will help you with the “do’s and don’ts”. They will help you to get your hand going again. They will also help you to look after your scar and prevent the tendons from getting trapped in the scar tissue.
  • Most patients experience relief after the surgery, but not everyone responds the same. Therapy will improve your chances of having a successful outcome after surgery.
  • Sometimes a splint may be required to protect the surgical area for 4-6 weeks and limit movement. This decreases the inflammation and improves you chances of the synovium settling after the surgery.

Schedule an Appointment

For an integrated approach to Occupational Therapy services, contact us on the details below.

Hands, Lymphoedema & Breast Cancer

079 491 6450