Hand Therapy blog post
Before I was a hand therapist I made my first every splint, on myself!
I had a wrist ganglion and was intent on practicing on myself before I applied for my first hand therapy position.
Here is some information we are commonly asked about in our clinics.
And if you are interested- my ganglion story following.
What is a ganglion?
Ganglion cyst is a non harmful fluid filled lump which often occurs on the back (dorsum) of the wrist. Less commonly they are found next to the radial artery on the front (volar aspect) of the wrist. And they can also occur at other parts of the body.
The ganglion cyst fluid has most commonly leaked from a nearby joint. Less commonly ganglions arise from a joint some distance from the ganglion. And in rare instances ganglions have been reported within a nerve.
What does a ganglion feel and look like?
A ganglion may result in wrist pain. The ganglion itself is not painful, however it can push on surrounding soft tissues such as nerves, tendons or other joints. Although ganglions at the wrist are a common cause of wrist pain, they are not the only cause of wrist pain.
And most ganglions do not cause any pain at all!
A lot of people have a ganglion in thier wrist and never see or feel it.
If you do see a ganglion, is usually looks like a small round or oval lump or ball on the surface of the wrist. The ball may be firm or soft to touch.
What can I do to help fix my ganglion?
Hand Therapy for ganglion management involves resting the wrist in the best position to avoid the ganglion getting better. We usually use a custom made thermoplastic splint for this. The splint is usually worn over night when you are asleep, splints may also be used during heavier or work tasks or for symptomatic relief. An experienced hand therapist may provide exercises specicially designed to stabilise the ligaments of the wrist. And also treat associated nerve or tendon issues. In some instances a ganglion will reduce in size with this treatment, however this can take time. And in some instances surgery is recommended.
Surgery for wrist ganglions
Surgery to remove the ganglion can be very successful. The surgery may be relatively simple if the ganglion has a short root and is not farm from the joint that it comes from. However if the root is long and / or the joint is deep, then surgery can become more involved. Your surgeon will likely discuss this with you.
It is often recommeded to rest your wrist in a splint for 2-4 weeks after the surgery. And a hand therapist can help with targeted strengthening and graded functional use programs which address the needs according to your specific ganglion and needs.
Hand Therapist's ganglion
I suspect my wrist ganglion resulted from a wrist injury sustained at netball several years earlier. My ganglion grew and grew until it sat 2 cm out of the back of my hand! I didn't experience any wrist pain. However the ganglion got in the way when pushing myself up from a chiar or doing push ups. Resting it unfortunately didn't work, so I had surgery with a now retired Adelaide Plastic Surgeon. I rested my wrist in the splint I had made myself for 2 weeks and then gradually started moving it. What I didn't do was manage my scar correctly. And I often show this to my clients as an example of why they need to manage their scars according to hand therapist recommendations!
Hand Therapy blog posts
Author Jo Marsh
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