Wondering what that bump on the back of your wrist might be? Chances are, it’s a ganglion cyst. In earlier days, people would treat them by smacking the lump with a heavy book (often the Bible) — hence the name “Bible bumps.”
“It’s a common problem,” explained Dr. M. Shane Frazier, orthopedic surgeon at Revere Health. “It is by far the most common tumor of the hand or wrist. Besides carpal tunnel syndrome, the next most common ailment is a ganglion cyst.”
Typically, ganglion cysts fluctuate in size and may even disappear on their own. While these cysts are not necessarily harmful and can be left alone, the main motivators for removing the cysts are their location and appearance.
Ganglion Cyst Location
As stated in an article on WebMD, the cause of ganglion cysts is unknown, however, they occur most often in women. Seventy percent of ganglion cysts occur in people between the ages of 20 to 40.
Even though these cysts are often painless, their location can create discomfort or pain. Ganglion cysts can be painful if they press on a nearby nerve, and they can sometimes interfere with joint movement.
Ganglion Cyst Appearance
For many, the size of the cyst creates unwanted attention with an awkward conversation often following. Let’s face it, a golf ball-sized lump on the top of your wrist is certain to spur a conversation among strangers.
“For some people, ganglion cysts are very small,” said Dr. Frazier. “But others can be painful and unsightly. A little while ago, I treated one approximately the size of a golf ball.”
Ganglion Cyst Treatment
If your ganglion cyst is causing pain, the treatment options may include aspiration or surgery.
Aspiration involves placing a needle into the cyst and drawing out the jelly-like soft liquid that comprises the cyst. Then an anti-inflammatory solution may be injected into the lump.
Surgery is often recommended when painful cysts interfere with normal function, attract undue attention or cause numbness or tingling.
“It’s a same-day, outpatient procedure. Usually the scar looks pretty good, the pain goes away almost immediately and most people report motion returning quickly following surgery,” said Dr. Frazier.
Although not life-threatening, ganglion cysts can be physically painful and lead to a number of painful, embarrassing conversations. When in doubt, it is always a good idea to have your doctor check it out. This can help ensure that you receive a proper diagnosis and can discuss treatment options — apart from the Bible smacking, which is strongly discouraged.
Whether it’s carpal tunnel syndrome or a ganglion cyst, you do not need to endure the discomfort of these common “bumps in the road.” Surgical specialists such as Dr. Frazier and others with Revere Health Hand, Wrist and Elbow Center can provide effective treatment for these and other common hand and wrist conditions.
This article was originally published by The Daily Herald. It has been republished here with permission.