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Ganglion Cyst

By Gary F. Zeolla

The following message was posted in the Weight Trainer's United forum and on my MySpace page.

When I was a teenager I developed a Ganglion cyst on my left wrist. For those who don’t know, this is an accumulation of fluid that can occur in the front or back of the wrist. It forms a hard “bump.” It is benign not cancerous, but it can be painful. Mine got very painful and gradually grew to the size of a large marble.

A “traditional” treatment for this is to smack it with a large book, like a family Bible. I’m serious! That actually can work but can be dangerous as you could break your wrist in the process, so now doctors will usually drain it. Back then, the doctor tried that, but it didn’t get rid of it, so I had to have surgery. I still have a scar on my wrist as a result. If I remember correctly, I wasn’t able to work out for few weeks after the surgery, but at least the cyst never came back.

Now, however, I began to have pain in my right wrist about a month before my recent contest. This actually relates back to my attempt to try to lift raw. When I lifted unequipped last year, I wore APT wrist wraps on benches and APT wrist bands on squats and deadlifts. But when I started training for a raw contest at the beginning of this year I stopped wearing the wrist support as it was not allowed in the contest I was training for.

When my knees began bothering me, I gave up my raw plans and instead decided to enter the RAWU contest because it allows knee sleeves (along with wrist wraps). At that time, I began wearing wrist wraps on benches but I just didn’t bother with the wrist bands on squats and deadlifts. Big mistake. I think it was the pressure from holding the bar on squats and the pull on deadlifts that caused my wrist to start bothering me.

When it did, I began wearing the wrist bands on squats and deadlifts again. With doing so, the pain seemed to clear up and was not a problem in training and at the contest. That is why I didn’t think of mentioning it to the doctor. But then on Monday (6/22/09) I did reverse bands squats but didn’t think of using the wrist bands. After the second set, my wrist really started bothering me, but it wasn’t until the next morning that I noticed the bump. But at least it is only the size of a pea, much smaller than my previous one.

I did some “Googling” to find out more about such cysts. As I said, they are benign and do not spread, so as long as wearing wrist bands keeps the pain under control, I could just ignore it. I would just have to wear wrist support for not just the actual powerlifts as I had been doing but for all heavy assistance work as well.

Many report having such cysts for years without doing anything about them. And in some cases, the cyst dissolves and goes away on its own. I considered just waiting to see if that would happen in my case. I wore a wrist band for my bench and deadlift workouts this past week, and with doing so it felt fine during and after the workouts, so I could just wait. But it bothered me the next mornings.

Also, thinking back to high school, I waited several weeks after the cyst developed before even seeing a doctor about it. That is probably why it grew so big and became so painful and needed surgery. So I figured this time I’d try having it drained before it got that bad.

I called my doctor about it, but was told I need to go to an orthopedic specialist to get it drained. I called and made an appointment for next Tuesday (6/30). I am hoping he drains it then and that is the end of it, But the problem is 50% of the time it comes back after being drained. If I end up needing surgery, that would end my November contest plans as recovery takes 2-6 weeks. But I’ll see what happens Tuesday.

Ganglion Cyst Update

I had my appointment with the orthopedic doctor today (Tuesday, 6/30/09). In a nutshell, he said the Ganglion cyst is not large enough to do anything about right now. He also said he does not usually bothering draining the cyst as it usually just comes back. He recommended waiting a couple of months and seeing what happens. If it gets worse, then we’ll talk about surgery.

However, given my chemical sensitivities, he said he’d be leery about surgery unless absolutely necessary. I have no idea what kind of reaction I would have to the anesthesia as I haven’t been “put under” in a decade. So yes, I would be leery about it as well.

I told him that wearing wrist support while lifting kept it from bothering me, so he said to continue to do so. The important point there is that is one more potential problem with competing raw (belt only) that could be added to my other experiences in that regard that I relate in my powerlifting book. If I had still been planning on entering the ADAU Raw Power contest next weekend (7/11), this wrist would have been a major problem. But since I had already planned on sticking with competing unequipped (belt, wrist and knee support), then this is just a minor concern.

However, I will have to wear wrist support for not just the actual powerlifts as I had been doing but for all heavy movements. By doing so, hopefully the cyst will not get worse, and I won’t need surgery. It will just be another thing I will have to learn to live with.

On another note, when I mentioned to the doctor about having fibromyalgia, he said it was very good that I workout on a regular basis as exercising is the best way to keep the condition under control. It is when people with fibromyalgia do not exercise that the fibromyalgia “takes control” as he put it.

That confirms something I’ve know for a long time, that it is essential for my health to keep working out, another point I also mention in my book. That is why I hope to continue to compete. It gives me an extra incentive to keep working out.

Ganglion Cyst Update

I should have updated this a long time ago. A few weeks after the previous update, the cyst started disappearing on its own! It began after a heavy deadlift workout. Maybe the pull on the wrist caused the puss to be sucked back into the body. That's just guess, but it eventually disappeared and has never returned to this day (2/25/15). Whatever happened, I thank God that I did not need surgery and that  it ended up not being an ongoing problem. But I am careful now to always wear wrist support for all heavy lifting.


Ganglion Cyst. Copyright 2009, 2015 by Gary F. Zeolla.

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