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Ganglion Cyst (cont.)

Is Surgery an Effective Treatment for a Ganglion Cyst?

Ganglion cysts are the second most common elective referral to a surgeon, carpal tunnel being the first. Surgical removal of the cyst is needed when the mass is painful, interferes with function (especially when the dominant hand is involved), or causes numbness or tingling of the hand or fingers. Surgery can involve simple removal of the cysts through a small incision in which a camera (arthroscope) is inserted to view the area or through a larger incision allowing the cysts and surrounding area to be seen directly. Arthroscopic surgery is becoming more common because of the smaller resultant scar and shorter healing times from the smaller incision.

What Types of Doctors Treat Ganglion Cysts?

The types of doctors that may treat ganglion cysts vary according to the cyst location and the individual's symptoms. Many individuals can be treated by their primary-care doctor; others may need treatment by an orthopedist or hand surgeon.

Is Follow-Up Necessary After Receiving Treatment for a Ganglion Cyst?

After you have been diagnosed with a ganglion cyst and have chosen to have treatment, follow-up will be different based on what you have chosen to do.

  • After simple aspiration, your doctor may ask you to start moving the joint soon after the procedure.
  • Most likely after surgery, your joint will be splinted for up to seven to 10 days. A splint is a hard wrap that will keep you from moving your joint. Not all physicians agree with this method (see below).
  • Recent studies show that splinting for a long period of time doesn't really help, and use of the joint soon after treatment is now often being encouraged by some physicians.
  • Your doctor may ask you to return for a checkup after your surgery and will decide if physical or occupational therapy is needed. Follow-up care will be based on your personal needs.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 1/12/2016

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