What Causes Cysts in Your Hands?

If you notice a lump or cyst on your hand, fingers, or wrist, you may be very concerned. Cysts are usually not dangerous, but certainly can raise alarm or be uncomfortable and compromise movement.

Cysts are usually filled with fluid, air, or other tissue. Often they develop on the joints, which obstructs movement and causes pain. Cysts can form in anyone of any age. 

At Maryland Orthopedic Specialists with offices in Bethesda and Germantown, Maryland, our team of medical specialists can help if you have a painful, debilitating cyst on your hand.

Understand a little about how they form and why, and then when you should seek a consultation and possible medical intervention.

Ganglion cysts

Ganglion cysts are the most common type of cyst, and they usually develop on the back of the wrist or on the hand. Usually oval-shaped or round, they emerge from the tissue that surrounds a tendon or joint. Ganglion cysts are fluid-filled.

A retinacular cyst is a type of ganglion cyst. These hard, pea-sized lumps usually form at the base of your fingers. They’re usually not painful, nor do they impede movement.

Ganglion cysts appear and disappear quickly and can change shape. Usually they’re painless, but if they press on a nerve, you may experience numbness or other discomfort.

Putting a lot of pressure or stress on your wrists or hands can make cysts develop or grow in size. Gymnasts, tennis players, and people who work with their hands a lot are at greater risk of developing a ganglion cyst. 

Ganglion cysts that develop at the joints at the end of your finger may be due to an arthritic joint. The joint can develop a bone spur and prompt the development of the cyst.

Epidermal inclusion cysts

Epidermal inclusion cysts are filled with keratin, a waxy, yellow protein found in your hair and sometimes around the organs. This type of cyst often maintains its size, but does have the potential to grow or become infected.

Irritation or injury to your skin or hair follicles can cause these cysts to form.

Treatment for cysts

Most cysts go away on their own. But if you have a cyst that’s causing pain or discomfort or that is infected, you may seek treatment from our experts at Maryland Orthopedic Specialists.

We can aspirate the cysts, which means we insert a needle and drain the fluid. With other cysts, we may inject a local anesthetic so they’re disrupted and shrink on their own.

With particularly bothersome cysts, surgery is an option. Usually we do this type of surgery as an outpatient procedure with local anesthesia. We excise the cyst, and then you go home to recover.  

It can be disturbing to find a cyst on your hand, fingers, or wrist, but these lumps are usually nothing to worry about. If you’re concerned about a cyst or just want to have us look at it, we’re here to help. Call us at Maryland Orthopedic Specialists for an appointment or book online.

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