The Unnerving Effects of Ganglion Cysts in the Palm of the HandDoctors know that many ganglion cysts are benign and need only be watched. Most ganglions tend to go away by themselves. But some can get in the way of how the body works. Especially when they form in the palm of the hand, an area rich in nerve pathways.
Two cases are reported in which patients developed nerve problems from ganglion cysts in the palms of their hands. The first was a 31-year-old woman who started having weakness in her left hand. A small bump could be felt in her palm. Ultrasound and MRI tests confirmed the lump. Other tests indicated that the median nerve of the wrist was somehow being squeezed by the ganglion in the palm of her hand. She had surgery to remove the ganglion. Ten weeks later, she had a full return of hand function and improved strength.
The second patient, a 71-year-old woman, also started noticing weakness in her left hand. As time passed, some of the muscles in her hand withered, and her ring and pinky fingers started to bend into the shape of a claw. Doctors determined that something was putting pressure on the ulnar nerve where it goes into the hand. During surgery, the doctors found a small round mass of tissue in the palm of the patient's hand. It was pressing against the ulnar nerve. The mass was removed and tested; it was a ganglion. Two months after surgery, the patient could grip and open her hand, but it was a full six months before she could straighten her fingers again.
Nerve pressure caused by a ganglion in the palm is not very common. But it can provide doctors with another avenue to explore when patients seek help for problems with hand weakness and function. Both patients in this case study benefited from surgery to remove the ganglion cysts that were causing nerve pressure.
Naomi Kobayashi, MD, et al. Neuropathy of Motor Branch of Median or Ulnar Nerve Induced by Midpalm Ganglion. In The Journal of Hand Surgery. May 2001. Vol. 26A. No. 3. Pp. 474-477.
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