Finding a lump or abnormal bump anywhere on your body can be scary. While we often hear about swollen lymph nodes or lumps forming as an early sign of breast cancer, it’s not unusual for cysts or masses to form elsewhere on the body, including the hand or wrist.

Lumps and bumps are often nothing to worry about. If you’ve recently bumped your arm or wrist on a hard surface, a lump could develop and will go away on its own within a few days. But if it doesn’t go away, it’s a good idea to see a hand doctor to find out what the cause of the spot may be.

Hand doctors and orthopedic surgeons in St George Utah treat cysts and masses caused by a variety of injuries and conditions. If you’ve discovered a lump or bump on your hand or wrist, keep reading to learn what it could be, what to do, and when to see a hand doctor for treatment.

The Difference Between a Cyst and a Mass

Before we dive into what to do if you suspect that you’ve found a cyst or mast and when to contact a hand doctor, it’s important to understand the difference between the two. A cyst is a closed pocket of tissue that contains fluid, air, or other substances. It may feel like a small, smooth lump under the skin and can vary in size. 

A mass refers to an abnormal growth of cells or tissues that can be solid or filled with fluid. Masses can range from harmless to potentially cancerous.

Because of their similar appearance, you may not know whether the abnormality that you’ve discovered is a mast or cyst. But what you do after discovering it remains the same either way.

What to Do if You Find a Cyst or Mast

If you discover a lump or unusual bump on your hand or wrist, the most important thing to do is not to panic. Remember that not all lumps are dangerous. In many cases, they are benign. For instance, one of the most common types of cysts that St George orthopedics treat are ganglion cysts. These fluid-filled lumps appear on the hand or wrist, are often painless, and are benign. 

The first thing you’ll want to do is observe the lump or bump. Make note of its size, shape, color, and whether or not it is painful to touch. You’ll want to note any changes it undergoes in the days or weeks that follow as well. 

If the lump is painless, doesn’t interfere with the motion of your hand or wrist, and if it doesn’t appear infected, you can wait to seek out help from a hand doctor. Keep an eye on the lump to watch for any changes, and wait to see if it goes away on its own within a couple of weeks.

When to See a Hand Doctor for a Cyst or Mass

Cysts on the hand and wrist are often benign. If your lump isn’t painful and doesn’t get in the way of using your hand or wrist, you may opt to wait to see a hand doctor. But if it doesn’t go away, or if you meet one of the following criteria, it’s best to start your search for the best doctor or hand surgeon Utah has to offer right away to get it checked out.

The following are a few situations that warrant seeing a hand doctor for your hand or wrist cyst or mass.

It Grows or Changes Quickly

If a cyst or mass on your hand grows rapidly in size or begins to show a noticeable change in shape, texture, or color, you should contact your hand doctor right away. These sudden changes may indicate that a more serious condition is to blame. The cyst or mass could still be benign, but it’s a good idea to get it checked out as soon as possible.

Your Mobility is Affected

Just because a cyst or mass is benign doesn’t mean that it won’t need to be removed. If the mass is affecting your ability to use your hand or wrist, don’t wait to see a hand doctor. They’ll not only check to see whether it’s benign, but will also make a plan for removing or reducing the cyst or mass to allow you to regain your full range of motion. 

You’re Experiencing Pain or Discomfort

If the cyst or mass is causing you any pain or discomfort, don’t wait to schedule an appointment with Intermountain Orthopedics. Painful lumps can be a sign of an infection or of an underlying condition. 

Other signs of infection include the lump and skin around it becoming red, swollen, or warm to the touch, or the lump to begin oozing pus. If you notice these symptoms, contact your hand doctor right away, or seek care at an emergency room or urgent care.

Family History of Cancer

If you have a family history of cancer or other conditions, it’s a good idea to be more vigilant about any cysts or masses that form. If you notice something unusual, it’s a good idea to schedule an appointment to get it looked at by a professional.

Treating Cysts and Masses

Once you’ve scheduled an appointment with a hand doctor, they’ll take a look at your lump and discuss any symptoms you’ve been experiencing. They may recommend diagnostic tests like X-rays, ultrasounds, or MRIs to help them get a better look at the lump’s internal structure. In some cases, your hand doctor may also decide to run a biopsy.

After diagnosing your cyst or lump, they’ll recommend a course of treatment. This might mean seeing top hand surgeons in Utah to get the lump removed or to have it drained. 

Finding a lump or bump can be scary. While lumps on the hand and wrist are often benign, it’s still a good idea to consult a hand doctor to find out whether there could be an underlying cause. The top hand surgeons in Utah will develop a treatment plan to remove or reduce your cyst or mass and get you back to living pain-free. From benign cysts to cancerous masses, our hand surgeons have experience treating a variety of types of lumps and bumps.

If you’ve noticed a lump or bump on your hand or wrist, contact the best orthopedic surgeons in St George Utah today to schedule an appointment.