View Full Version : Ganglion Cyst - Wrist

Kevin Anderson
01-03-2005, 08:42 AM
Has anyone had a ganglion cyst in the wrist and had it removed? I have one that is causing me great pain and limited range of motion. I've had it aspirated 3 times over several years and it always comes back. It is so sore right now that I can't do HSPUs or rack the bar for a front squat at all and it is sore all the time.

David Wood
01-03-2005, 09:40 AM

Yes, I had a "neurololoma" (spelling?) . . . essentially, a ganglion cyst on the ulnar nerve, rather than on a tendon. It was huge . . . about the size of a golf ball.

Get it removed . . . BUT . . . (and this is only my opinion, but it's a strong one) . . . go to the best hand surgery specialist you can find. There are LOTS of doctors who will list "hand surgery" as something they do . . . plastic surgeons, orthopedic surgeons, etc. You don't want them to do this.

If the doc also does tummy tucks, or face lifts, tell him "no, thanks". If the doc also does knees, well, I would still tell him no. You want to find one who specializes in the hand and wrist . . . there are dozens of bones, and hundreds of ligaments, tendons, and nerves floating around in there . . . you want someone who will feel very much at home when he or she cuts in there.

If you live in Austin (as your profile suggests), you should be able to find someone there. I was living in Dallas when I had this done (at Baylor downtown). If you can't find someone good in Austin, I can look up my old records and find the name of the guy who worked on me.

(The surgery was very much worth doing, and having done right . . . it's never returned, and I have no limitations from it (plus, you get a neat scar on your wrist that makes people wonder about your mental stability . . .))

One more tip that helped me find a good doc . . . if you're seeing an orthopedic doc who DOESN'T specialize in the hand, ask him/her who *they* would have do this work on them . . . they'll know who's good in the area.

Good luck,

Kevin Anderson
01-03-2005, 10:06 AM
David, thanks a ton for the info. I've assumed that my cyst is on the tendon sheath and didn't even know about the nerve version so I will ask the orthopedic surgeon about it tomorrow when I go. The nerve version must have been really painful. I am in Austin and will have to do some asking around to see about a hand specialist. I will definitely take your advice and not let just anyone cut on it. Mine isn't golf ball size but it has been pretty big in the past. In my case size doesn't necessarily mean more pain. I've popped it a couple of times myself by squeezing on it real hard which is pretty cool and I've heard in the old days the Bible was often used to squash them. I guess it just hurts more this time around because of the type of exercise and movements I am doing such as handstands and olympic lifts.



David Wood
01-03-2005, 02:32 PM
Actually, I didn't know about the nerve variation, either. Amusingly, neither did the first surgeon I went to. He literally put me under anesthesia, went in there to remove what he thought would be a ganglion cyst on a tendon, and then (as he told me later), spent 15 minutes looking for the ulnar nerve (which he couldn't find, but wanted to locate before he cut anything).

He finally realized that the cyst was on the nerve itself (which he hadn't expected), and, to his credit, decided at that point that it wasn't something he should be messing with and closed the incision back up without removing anything.

(This was how I learned that a lot of plastic surgeons will list "hand surgery" as something they specialize in . . . and when I decided that I better find someone who really knew what they were doing in there.)

The idea of just squashing a cyst was a solution for a long time (put your wrist down on a table, and slam it with a big, heavy book (usually, the family Bible was the only thing big enough and heavy enough)) . . . but, as you've discovered, they grow back. Get it taken off by someone who knows what they're doing, and it probably won't.


Kevin Anderson
01-04-2005, 09:07 AM
Just got back from my appointment with an orthopedic surgeon and he said I should take it out. He also said that he did three of them before the holidays on people who wanted to get it done during down time which is what I should have done. Anyway, he said it will take 4 to 6 weeks before I should do anything strenuous. Does that sound about right.

David Wood
01-04-2005, 02:43 PM

Yeah, that was about my down time . . . maybe 4 weeks of next-to-nothing, and two weeks of modified workouts.

The first two weeks post-surgery were a real pain, I had to keep the wrist elevated above my head absolutely as much as possible. I had a desk job at the time, so it wasn't impossible, just really annoying.

You might consider asking them to set a small hook in either (or both) the underside and backside of the cast (at the wrist) so you can hang the danged thing up on something. I "borrowed" one of those rolling poles the hospital uses to hang bags of saline or blood or stuff, and then set that next to my desk and just "hung" my casted wrist on it. If you can't get away with borrowing one you can also rent one from a rental place for a couple of weeks pretty cheaply.

On the other hand, actually holding the arm partially overhead will build up static strength in that side's deltoid muscle . . .

Overall, it was probably 6 weeks before I was back to regular workouts (e.g., two-handed overhead lifting). However, you can certainly ride a (stationary) bike from day one, and with some inventiveness, can probably do many one-handed exercises with the other side of your body (DB snatches, swings, etc.). The first week (or so), even those will probably cause pain in the surgery-side wrist; if so, don't do them. Just ride the bike.

If you're real good, you can do one-arm chins . . . Kelly Moore is out there right now doing two-finger chins with a broken hand and a cast on one arm, but I'm *NOT* suggesting that you try to emulate her performance.

Once the cast/dressing/whatever is off and the incision is healed, you can swim and/or run to pretty much your heart's content . . . I would start back with weight-lifting on that side pretty slowly, and let pain be your guide.

But, overall, yeah, do it. Get it out of the way . . . at age 31, you've got a lot of lifting ahead of you, and 6 weeks of down time to get rid of your "friend" is worth it.

Kevin Anderson
01-04-2005, 03:34 PM
Dave, thanks so much for all of your suggestions and advice. At this point I can't do olympic lifts, handstands or pushups anyway so I figure I might as well get it taken care of, this Friday in fact. I was suprised to get in so quickly. I'll let you know how it goes. Thanks for giving me an idea of what the post-op will be like. I'll have been doing Crossfit for about a year in February and I don't know what I would do without it. Everyone is so helpful, it has become a major part of my life. I've tried to spread it around to my friends but they just think I am crazy except for my brother who bought some rings and got a 20 foot climbing rope for Christmas from his wife. The one I got was only nine feet long! Thanks -Kevin

Kevin Anderson
01-10-2005, 06:55 AM
Well my cyst is gone and I have a splint that I get to take off Thursday hopefully. Surgery wasn't bad and pain has subsided. Only took a couple doses of vicodon. My garage gym is currently serving as a play area for my daughter until I can get back at it.

William Hunter
01-10-2005, 07:11 AM
Hope your recovery goes well Kevin!

Brian Gibson
01-10-2005, 02:04 PM
Heal up quick. :happy:

Kevin Anderson
01-16-2005, 06:01 AM
My splint came off thursday and now I am starting to do things again. I've found that I can row and do dead hang pullups(carefully) without pain. Doctor said not to lift anything heavy but these things don't hurt so I guess they are OK. I've been working on range of motion and the extension is very painful when I reach the stiff point. I still have steri strips and it is a little swollen but so far I think it is healing up well.

David Wood
01-16-2005, 08:19 PM
Kevin: Best of luck . . . it seems you're already ahead of my recovery pace. Let pain be your guide, but go gingerly for at least a week. Now is not the time to be trying to pull a huge C&J, catching a 250-lb bar on your wrists in full extension.


Carrie Klumpar
01-16-2005, 10:57 PM
Amazing that you can do pull-ups already. Cool.
Good for you for getting back to WOs so quickly. Don't rush it though--a few days of delay now are nothing compared to setting yourself back by going too hard.

Take care, and keep us posted.

Kevin Anderson
02-22-2005, 09:33 AM
Anyone know any good tricks for breaking up scar tissue? I am trying to get back flexibility in my wrist. Racking the bar in a front squat and handstand pushups are still painful.

William Hunter
02-22-2005, 11:35 AM
Kevin, you might try using your thumb. Short, aggressive strokes back and forth over the scar, then switch directions. Work the scar from as many angles as you can. This creates friction, which is good, and also makes the scar tissue matrix more pliable. Follow immediately with stretching in the directions you're having difficulty with. Hold these for at least 30 seconds. You might even try some of the contract-relax, PNF or Pavel's tension techniques to increase the stretch.

If home remedies fail, a PT might try ultrasound or some Chiro's use Active Release Technique or Graston Technique.

You can work the scar every day, or multiple times per day if it feels OK.

Hope this helps.

Kevin Anderson
02-22-2005, 02:38 PM
Great info, I've been rubbing it with my thumb but I will try and be more methodical about it and follow it up with stretching.