From time to time, our bodies can show signs that many of us prefer to take lightly so as not to worry too much. This is the case for certain lumps that can appear on the skin, either in a generalized way or in specific areas of the body. Today, we will focus on this bump that tends to appear on the wrist.
What are synovial cysts?
A ganglion, hygroma or synovial cyst is a kind of fluid-filled pocket that appears in the joints and tendons. What you need to know is that this liquid does not come from nowhere because it is the one that the body secretes in small quantities to lubricate our joints and tendons. But it can happen, following unusual movements that put more strain on them than the norm, that the body tries to compensate for this by producing more synovial fluid and it is precisely this excess of lubricating fluid that causes the formation of a ball called a “synovial cyst”.
The different places where these cysts can form?
These cysts can appear at the level of a joint, in this case we speak of an arthro-synovial cyst. These cysts are often found on the top of the wrist or in the inner part of the wrist. Some cysts can sometimes appear on the joints of the fingers, they are then mucoid cysts sometimes capable of causing deformities in the nails.
They can also form in the path of a tendon, in this case it is a teno-synovial cyst.
It should be noted that the different types of cysts mentioned above commonly appear in different categories of the population, without any particular distinction of age or sex. 30 to 40% of French people have already had to deal with these small bumps.
What are they caused by? And what symptoms do they present?
In the majority of cases, synovial cysts are benign and idiopathic, which means that they occur for no particular reason. However, some can form following a wrist sprain or any other trauma related to a joint or a ligament, in this case it is a post-traumatic cyst. That said, these are more painful than the previous ones, a medical follow-up including an ultrasound, an X-ray or an MRI is then necessary to identify the cause and avoid such a thing happening again.
The only real symptom that a synovial cyst presents is the appearance of this ball and its only real repercussion on the body is the discomfort caused, although this varies according to the type of cyst and the place where it has developed. Knowing that generally, the pain caused comes in waves and disappears by itself.
How to treat such a condition?
As a general rule, a cyst that appears should be monitored first, even if it does not require treatment per se. After the growth spurt, the cyst may stabilize before regressing and disappearing on its own after 6 months. According to Dr. Frédérique Mazodier, orthopedic surgeon: “30 to 40% of wrist cysts regress spontaneously within the first 4 months after their appearance.
It is therefore advisable, if the pain or discomfort caused by the cyst is not significant, to wait and see how the lump evolves over time. Otherwise, you can apply alcohol-soaked gauze pads to the lump in case of pain while waiting to consult a doctor.
Doctors recommend wearing a splint to rest the wrist and to put as little strain on it as possible.
In the case of traumatic cysts or particularly disabling pain, surgical removal, also known as “exegesis”, is the appropriate solution. This type of surgery is performed on an outpatient basis under local anesthesia. The patient keeps a bandage and does not use the affected joint for a couple of weeks. During the recovery period, it is strongly recommended to avoid carrying heavy loads and any movement requiring a certain amount of force. The normal activity of the affected area can then be fully resumed 4 to 5 weeks later.
Whether they disappear on their own or undergo surgery, synovial cysts are prone to recurrence in 10% of cases. Recurrence is treated in the same way as the very first time. But keep in mind that this is a very common condition and you don’t have to worry or panic, just keep an eye on it to avoid embarrassment later on.