Ganglions of the hand and wrist are not usually painful and rarely cause loss of function. These ganglions can quickly appear, surprising many people, but they can also disappear of their own accord just as quickly.
In some cases however, ganglions of the hand and wrist can actually be quite painful or restrict hand and wrist movements. So surgical intervention may be required to relieve pain and to restore function.
On the other hand, many of these ganglions can be resolved non-surgically by aspirating the ganglion (removing the jelly-like insides of the ganglion with a needle), but if they return, hand surgery is often required, because they can be quite unsightly.
Dr Hartley will recommend hand surgery for ganglions of the hand and wrist, if your symptoms have not been relieved by nonsurgical methods, such as aspiration. The hand surgery to remove ganglions of the hand and wrist is called an excision, it is a quick day procedure at a Gold Coast hospital, with a fast recovery.
These are your post-operative instructions from Dr Hartley for the period following your ganglion excision surgery.
There are six questions we are often asked by our patients:
Should I move or exercise after a ganglion excision?
How long do I leave my dressings on my hand or wrist after a ganglion excision?
What pain relief medication can I use after a ganglion excision?
How long until I can drive again following a ganglion excision?
How long will it take to recover following a ganglion excision?
How long before I can return to work after a ganglion excision?
We will answer these six questions in turn below:
Yes, exercises are important in the post-operative period following your surgery. So make a gentle fist as best you can and hold it for 3-5 seconds and then straighten your fingers. Perform this exercise at least 10 times every hour while you are awake.
Your hand or wrist will be covered with a padded crepe bandage following your surgery. If you wish to take a shower, it is important that you tape a plastic bag over your bandage and hold your hand with fingers up to prevent water dripping inside your dressing.
If your dressing becomes dirty or loose, you can remove the crepe bandage and the wool bandage after three days, however please leave the sticky dressings underneath intact.
Following your ganglion excision surgery, your hand and fingers may feel numb for up to 48 hours, due a nerve block used during your operation. This usually resolves fully within 24 hours, but occasionally some partial numbness can last for a few days.
If you require pain relief, please take simple analgesics, such as Panadol Osteo and don’t forget to take your own medications from your doctor.
As a general rule, you can expect to spend at least a few days to a week without driving. Legally it is your responsibility, so it is your decision - but driving without the full use of your hand is dangerous.
Dr Hartley’s suggestion is to return to driving when you can lift a full two litre carton of milk, pour out some milk and return the carton to the table in a controlled fashion.
For the first few days following your ganglion excision surgery, you will not be using your hand or wrist much, if at all. However, after about three days you will be able to perform most activities that do not require grip strength, such as using a knife and fork and combing your hair.
Your return to work will be largely determined by how you use your hands at your place of employment and whether the operation was to your dominant hand.
A return to clerical duties can occur within a few days of surgery, whereas it can take several weeks before returning to a manual job. If your surgery is under WorkCover, they may arrange a workplace assessment to determine if there are light-duties you can undertake when you initially return to work.
Cigarette smoking (even just one or two) can affect your healing and rate of complications following a ganglion excision. Dr Hartley strongly recommends that you do not smoke for at least one month after surgery.
Most of the time it is fine to leave your hand by your side, but if you notice throbbing or swelling in your hand, then lift your hand to the level of your heart or higher, until the throbbing or swelling subsides.
For more information on what to do after a ganglion excision, please call our receptionist - Annie Thomas on 1300 447 563 or complete our online enquiry form.