What is this lump on my hand?
You may be concerned if you notice a lump on your hand, fingers, or wrist. Most likely, that lump is a cyst. A cyst is generally not dangerous but can certainly raise alarm if it is uncomfortable or compromises movement.
Cysts are 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.
Ganglion cysts are the most common type of cyst, and they can develop on the back of the wrist or on the hand. Oval-shaped or round, they emerge from the tissue that surrounds a tendon or joint and 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 typically not painful, nor do they impede movement.
Ganglion cysts appear and disappear quickly and can change shape. While they are often painless, 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. 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.
Treatment for cysts
Most cysts will go away on their own. But if you have a cyst that’s causing pain, discomfort or appears to be infected, it is best to seek treatment.
Aspirating a cyst is done by inserting a needle and draining the fluid. With other cysts, you may need a local anesthetic, so they’re disrupted and shrink on their own.
With particularly bothersome cysts, surgery may be an option. The cyst is excised 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, make an appointment for an assessment.