Ganglions - does anyone else have them and are they RA related?

For the second time my GP has referred to these smooth lumps I'm developing on many of my finger and knuckle joints as "possible ganglions" so I looked them up just now. Last night I went to bed very late and was in lots of pain in both my hands all through - but then the focus seemed this morning to be on my thumb joint (the middle one) and now I wake to find I have another of these smooth hard lumps on the joint that has sprung up overnight? This is the third one that's grown since I started on MTX - the others on top finger joints all sprung up when I had my first steriod injection back in June. My GP told me these are often hereditary but neither of my parents had them? Yesterday he said he thought they were more likely to be RA related than anything to do with the MTX - thought it was just a coincidence that three large ones have arrived on my hand joints. I don't think I believe in coincidences that much?! The boney joints on the outer wrists also seem to be grown and are always very sore and hot to touch? More of these ganglions perhaps?

Does this correspond with anyone else's RA? Baffled and fed up with them - Tilda x

16 Replies

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  • Hi Tilda, the only ganglion I ever had was on my wrist after I broke it when a child. They tried bashing it with Grey's anatomy (the standard procedure then) but had to have an operation to remove it in the end and still have the scar. A true ganglion is a little bag of seeds which is very hard which grows on a damaged joint (hence trying to bash it with a large book to burst it!). So it could be related to the RA but I am not really sure about that. I have not had them since and didn't get one when I broke the other wrist 2 years ago.

    Suggest mention to your consultant when you see him/her as he is bound to have come across this if it is to do with the RA.

    My father had osteo arthritis and he did have bony overgrowths on his finger joints but that is more to do with the damage to the joints than anything else. Likewise my grandfather had the same and the joints would also be very swollen and painful.

    Hope you get an answer soon and some treatment. lavendarLady x

  • Thanks LL. I know I keep banging on about these (banging ho ho :-) but they are starting to really get me down. Its bad enough having RA stiffness, swelling and pain in hands and wrists a lot but to have these weird bony/ blistery lumps springing up all over the place overnight is the pits! I feel like I'm the dung beetle in Kafka's book Metamorphosis - or transforming like a character in a Harry Potter/ Sci Fi book! And I did read about bashing them with a bible but mine are all on fingers and knuckles and that would feel really mean and probably unproductive with such delicate joints as fingers?

  • Yes, I think bashing a large book on your fingers would do more harm than good! I do get nodules coming up on the side of my hand when I have a flare up but they do go down again and sometimes I can feel them just under the skin before they make their appearance. Hjope you get some answers soon. LavendarLady x

  • Hi My name is Susan and my husband has Vasculitis (Wegeners Granulomatosis) we belong to the Vasculitis HealthUnlocked community. I have suffered ganglions all my life. The worse one was in the actual joint of my knee and I had to have an operation to remove it. I was on crutches for 3 weeks and 6 weeks off work. I have had them on my back and on my feet. I do not have RA but I was told that they are hereditary but not in every generation. I believe my grandmother had them on my father's side. I think the best thing to do is talk to your consultant. I would be very interested in what he has to say. Hope you get some answers soon. Susan x

  • Thanks Susan and LL. Mine are not nearly as critical as yours are Susan but I am very confused by them because they coincide with the parts of me most affected by the RA to date and if they are Osteo or something else it would be good to know although seems very coincidental to me. I also have trigger fingers now and that is really distressing me a lot as it limits what I can do so much - and the same fingers are the ones with these ganglions/ nodes so that's why my GP felt it must be RA related. I don't see my consultant again until March so it's a bit of a wait I'm afraid but will report back when I get more info from him! Tilda x

  • Hi TildaT I have a ganglion on the middle finger of my right hand towards the knuckle which seemed to appear overnight.I had an update X-ray on my hands which showed that I had slight damage to that finger caused by the RA.I wear one of the tiny plastic splints as this particular finger is now what I think they call a 'swan neck'.It just means the finger bends up slightly at the end.

    My father had a couple of ganglions on his wrist which my mother seemed to cure with the aid of the Encyclopaedia Brittanica.She hit them with it.This was in the 60's so not recommended as a cure today.xx

  • they say if you have bouts of ganglions it could be connected to RA ... i had one years ago on my wrist but i fell over one day and then it went ... but never had one since....its a cyst as you prob know which lay on the tendons .... so i dont think its connected but then again nothing surprises me ever since ive had RA xx

  • Hi Avijh and Essex Girl - thanks for your contributions. Mine are attached to the joints not the tendons I think and they could be Osteoarthritis related things called Buchard's Nodes but my GP seems to think them ganglions because they are quite blister like to look at. I really do hate them but

    hopefully they will calm down like the ones at on the top joints have eventually. My worry is that they represent damage to the joint and that they seem quite aggressive - the way they spring up overnight and feel sore and tight rather than the horrible ache and throb and pain of the joints that are swollen with RA? It feels like my fingers are growing horns - quite similar to when the big teeth came through when you were a kid? Also they catch on things and really hurt if I have to knock on a door for e.g - although that's hard anyway these days anyway because I can't clench either of my hands at all as none of my fingers bend that far. Oh well poor sad old hands and wrists - I'm becoming increasingly sure that the reason my RA has settled on them for so long now is because of years of misuse and abuse making paintings and latterly embroidering. If only someone had warned me I'd have been so much kinder to them! TTx

  • Hi Tilda, as you are not due to see your consultant until March, I suggest you ring after New Year and get an earlier appt. At least it will set your mind at rest as to what these things are.

    I paint but do find my hands stiffen up after a while and I cannot hold a paint brush or pencil. Likewise had to give up on knitting, embroidery and apart from basic repairs, sewing as well as my fingers get so painful.

    I was told by the orthopaedic surgeon at the hospital when I get trouble with tendons shortening and causing fingers to bend inwards, to bend the finger back to stretch the tendons. Don't know if this is what you mean by trigger finger? My father had that in his forefinger but that was caused by years of shooting and it would lock and cause him a lot of pain. Love LavendarLady x

  • Well I didn't think it was trigger finger but then I read (when looking for ganglions!) that trigger finger is actually the same thing as you mean but in reverse. Increasingly my fingers don't bend in so neither hand can clench - but my right hand forefinger and left hand middle finger can't get beyond a slight incline for a lot of the time and both are permanently swollen - as are the knuckles under them. It says not being able to bend your fingers either way is trigger finger and apparently this is operable so I was thinking, if the MTX doesn't work wonders, if I shouldn't ask them about having the op to unlock the worst offending fingers as I find it increasingly worrying not to be able to bend them - it's been like this for about 4 months and physio says the longer it is like this for the more permanent. I have been given the opposite exercise to do with my fingers to yours i.e bend them inwards to touch the palm individually but only a few fingers will reluctantly permit this now although I keep trying.

    The one thing that seems to be making a significant difference is the stress ball that a son gave the other son which i've borrowed permanently now (seeing as I paid for it indirectly!). I'm hoping that it will build up hand muscles eventually because I can't squeeze any more so have to get shampoo, toothpaste etc done by sons or OH and dishcloths are a nightmare to wring out! Do you find this too?

    I can still embroider as long as I take max dose of ibuprofen all the time and give my hands frequent breaks - but this is my work rather than a hobby so I intend to keep going with it whatever else happens to me because I would go nuts if I didn't do it. Can't write or draw at all anymore sadly because of the pressure of putting pencil to hard surface on my wrists and knuckles/ tendons - but hopefully the meds will work or the RA will move somewhere else eventually - don't know how it works at all yet? It seems to be pretty much here in my hands to stay and it doesn't seem to move around with me as it did for the first 8 months.

    Finally - I found I have a small ganglion/nodule/ lump on my left elbow now - which has been quite uncomfortable for a while and I can't lean on it so that maybe explains why. Nothing earth shattering at all and no unfortunately I can't see rheumy earlier than March unless by video link if deemed urgent, because that's when he next comes up here. I could be flown to Aberdeen but for obvious reasons NHS Orkney will only pay for urgent cases or stuff that can't be done up here.

    Take care LL - I'm off to the airport with oldest boy now - we will miss him in a masochistic sort of a way - he is very good at conversation unlike the other two who still speak in grunts! Tilda x

  • Hi Tilda,

    Sorry to hear that you are having so much trouble with your hands. As for the triggering I had this in my left hand thumb, thought it was quite funny at first but then it became very tedious and painfull (all of my others fingers would also cramp up into the most weirdest of shapes, especially on waking in the morning when I would stretch). Anyway, my physiotherapist gave me a steroid injection into the tendon sheath of my triggering thumb, and, hey presto, it has stopped. My thumb is still very weak and won't bend much (I gently push down on it to help it on it's way!). I had read that the injection was very painful but to be honest it really isn't any more painfull than having a steroid injection in the botty. Maybe you should speak to you OT or physio regarding their advice on the triggering and whether an injection would help sort it out.

    I hope this helps in some small way, have a good day

    Rainie

    xx

  • Thanks Rainie - I spoke to my physio and a locum GP about the possibility of getting a steroid injection into my hand. It was my physio's suggestion to begin with but when I reminded her at a later visit she just said I should wait to see how the MTX worked and she wasn't sure it would be that effective as all my fingers are doing it to a greater or lesser extent and it's my knuckles below the fingers that she's focusing on for treatment. The locum said only a rheumatologist could do this as there are lots of tiny nerves that might be damaged if it wasn't done correctly. I've heard from physio that my own GP does it occasionally but he didn't suggest it to me this week when I saw him despite commenting on how swollen my hands were looking. My hands are much better today but I'm coming down with son's man flu and feeling too rubbish to fully appreciate it! TTX

  • Hi,

    Just wanted to add my sympathy.

    I had ganglions on the top of my feet just before my RA was diagnosed, but they disappeared, maybe the DMARDs reduced them.

    Then I had lots of finger problems, including what seemed to be knots in my fingers and palms. So my fingers would lock tight. They were sorted by steroid injections.

    Since then I obsess about my hands and always carry a soft tiny rubber ball in my pocket so I am able to exercise my fingers at any time. I got it from a Disability shop. Also the OT gave me some "putty" which I squeeze to keep everything moving.

    The OT made me do lots of ice cold hand baths too. They were really a shock. Most patients got the hot wax. I got a bowl of water and ice cubes!

    My thumb is still pretty bad and I have a splint for it.

    One of the most productive therapies I have tried is kneading bread dough! Lots of exercise with a tasty reward.

    Good luck and hope you get some expert help soon.

  • Thanks Phoebe. That's very relevant actually because I was considering blogging about the stress ball one of my sons gave another for Christmas. The dog was about to take it and I confiscated it and then started using it myself. I has bought another type of one a few weeks ago for myself but it was too firm and my hands could hardly grip it let alone squeeze it! So I've been using son's one since Xmas and my fingers, especially the forefinger most affected (75% unbending and double its old size in width for months) and I can almost fully bend it now, a week later. Ganglion/ modules don't hurt at least though one on elbow is sore if I lean on tables.

    I don't know whether the MTX has kicked in or whether the systemic dose of ibuprofen is keeping things at bay (but it didn't before) but I believe most of the credit lies in the stress ball - which neither the physio or OT had recommended? Ironic really! I'm nursing a heavy cold with sore throat lingering on now but feel on top of world despite this because of huge reduction of pain and stiffness in hands and fingers! Wrists are still very sore at sides but a fraction on what they were - yipee how lucky am I?! Tilda x

  • My wife had a lump on the back of her hand that the doctors said was a ganglion cyst. Some days it was barely noticeable and other days it was quite painful. When it really started to hurt she went to a hand specialist. It turned out to be a malignant tumor and had entwined itself around the nerves and tendons in her hand. We would have started Immediate chemo except she was pregnant with our 6th boy. They ended up taking the baby Six weeks early to start chemo which didn't help at all and they ended up amputating her had six inches below her elbow. The cancer ( Ewing's Sarcoma) spread anyway and she passed away at the age of 37 three months after our Ty was born. We check out ALL our lumps and bumps to make sure . . .

  • How sad Hawkesc. I'm so sorry for your loss.

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