Ganglions and other wrist/hand swelling

Ganglions

Ganglions are benign fluid-filled sacs, often arising from a joint capsule, ligament or tendon sheath.  The exact cause of ganglion development remains uncertain, but one suggestion is that they form following trauma or degeneration of the tissue.  Ganglions can occur in almost any location in the wrist and hand.

The presence of a ganglion may limit joint movement and cause local discomfort as soft tissues become stretched or compressed.  Large ganglions can often be seen as a visible lump on the wrist or hand and ganglions in the small joints of the fingers may cause deformities of the fingernail.

Your hand surgeon will usually be able to diagnose a ganglion by examining its location and shape, occasionally imaging of the swelling may be required.

Ganglions often change size and may even disappear spontaneously.  If the ganglion is asymptomatic, it may be best to simply observe it for a period of time.

Surgical management because of the high recurrence rates is normally only considered when the ganglion is causing pain, restricting range of movement and having an impact on functional use of the affected hand.

Other swellings

Several other benign and malignant growths (tumours) can occur in the hand and wrist.  These need to be assessed by a hand surgeon to determine the type of tumour and whether surgery is needed.

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