Ganglion cysts appearing on the wrist are harmless, fluid-filled sacs that arise from a tendon sheath or joint capsule. The cause of this medical condition is not known. These cysts usually do not cause much harm and are often found to disappear with time. They can appear at any place on the wrist like on the upper area, where they are called dorsal ganglion, or the underside between the pulse point and the thumb. They can also form at other areas like the base of a finger or a finger's end joint. Wrist ganglion cysts are filled with a fluid which is thick like mucus, clear in appearance, and resembles the fluid found to be present in joints. Gymnasts are mostly found to suffer with this problem as their wrist is subjected to frequent bouts of stress. The reason is not established, but women are more prone to develop wrist cysts than men.
Symptoms of Wrist Ganglion Cyst
Individuals developing ganglion cyst observe smooth, round lumps growing on their wrist or near their finger joints. These lumps are filled with fluid which can be confirmed by focusing light on it, as the fluid can be observed due to transillumination. The cysts are usually painless, but in some cases, people may experience pain due to pressure exerted by the fluid-filled sac on the nerve fibers near the joint . The size of the cyst keeps changing depending on the level of activity of the person. When the person's activity increases, the size of the cyst increases and when the person is at rest, the size of the cyst eventually decreases.
Some people experience pain even when there is no evidence of lump formation. This happens because of the presence of occult cysts, which are very small in size and are not visible. If a person suffers from pain, be it due to a large cyst or an occult cyst, his normal activities are greatly affected. Medical procedures like aspiration are used to treat this condition non-surgically. If this treatment does not provide relief, surgery is carried out. Some exercises, when practiced regularly, also help in reducing the pain associated with these cysts.
Wrist Ganglion Cyst Exercises
Place your palm on a flat surface like a table top. Now rotate the forearm such that your palm rests on the flat surface with your thumb on top. Now rotate your hand in the other direction towards the side of your thumb. Repeat this a few times. This exercise is known as wrist radial/ulnar deviation, which falls under the category of AROM or Active Range of Motion exercise because the person has to perform it on his own without any help.
To carry out this exercise, you need a therapist who can help you out. Lie down on a bed and place arms by your side. The therapist will move your wrist in all directions. The wrist is moved sideways, forward and backward, and in full circles to cover a range of motions. This exercise falls under the category of PROM or Passive Range of Motion exercises. It is called passive because the patient cannot carry them out on his own and needs a therapist for the same.
Light weights are required to perform this exercise. Sit comfortably on a chair and place your forearm with the cyst on the table, and hang a dumbbell over the edge of the table. Flex your wrist towards you and then towards the floor. Repeat this for a few times. This exercise is known as free weight wrist flexion and extension, and can be done easily to strengthen the wrist and finger joints.
Sit on a chair and place your forearm with the cyst on your thigh. Now keep your other palm over the one with the cyst and apply pressure on the palm with the injured one. Repeating this several times will help in strengthening the wrist without using weights. This exercise is known as isometric flexion and extension and can be performed either on your own or with the help of a therapist.
Exercises for wrist ganglion cyst can be performed two or three times daily to get relief from pain. These can be performed by people who have this problem or have undergone a surgery, to get back the strength and flexibility of the wrist.