Ganglion on the Finger: Tips for Dealing with the Problem

A ganglion on the finger is a cyst or a small swelling. There is no clear indication of why these gelatinous bumps appear on the hands of people. They tend to come on the front and back of the hand and from the wrist to the tips of the fingers. One possible theory for ganglion appearance is that they are the result of some old injuries.  There is also some correlation between ganglion on the finger and arthritis in the finger joint. This does not mean that those who get ganglion will definitely have arthritis.  Ganglia are most common in people in the 20-50 age group and women are said to be three times more likely to get one than men.

What is a ganglion?

A ganglion is a firm swelling which is likely to be round or elliptical with a sac filled with a gelatinous substance. It is a bump above the surface of the skin. These are usually painless swelling although depending on the location they can sometimes be the source of acute discomfort.  Ganglia tend to develop around the joints and tendons and are in some ways connected to movement but the exact correlation is not yet established. Sometimes the swelling starts out small and becomes larger.

Coping with ganglion

Most often a ganglion on the finger disappears on its own and does not need any treatment on medical intervention. However, sometimes because of the location and the difficulty in performing some tasks it may be necessary to remove a ganglion.  Aspiration and surgery are the two options. It is imperative that patients not attempt aspiration on their own and that they visit a clinic or hospital. While it is a simple outpatient procedure that can be accomplished with a needs and a syringe, it is not a good idea to treat this as a do-it-yourself project. The doctor will most likely insert a sterilized needle in a safe spot in the sac and then use the syringe to draw out the fluid. A corticosteroid is occasionally injected in suspension form to provide relief from any soreness.

The surgery is also an outpatient procedure and will not take long. It is said that the recurrence rate for surgical removal is less than aspiration. Surgical removal has a 5 to 15 percent chance of recurrence and while there are no numbers for aspiration it is said to be higher. While a wrist ganglion will need a splint after surgery, a ganglion on the finger will not require a splint. However, it is a good idea to limit movement initially and then to slowly introduce a range of motions to the affected finger. An acetaminophen can be used to deal with the mild pain associated with finger ganglion in the days before and after the surgery or aspiration.

Ganglion on the finger is a very visible annoyance and in some cases a person may be tempted to press it in on even hit it hard with a book to just flatten it out. While the swelling is benign, such efforts to treat the ganglion with aggression are not advisable. It is likely to lead to other injuries. So, it is best to wait patiently for the swelling to reduce or to visit a doctor and take care of the matter surgically.

A ganglion on the finger is more a nuisance than a real health issue – those who have it cannot forget it or ignore it but they do not need to fret that it indicative of a bigger health hazard. The other good news is that a finger ganglion is considered to have a quicker recovery period than a wrist ganglion.

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