May 25, 2006 8:58 PM   Subscribe

What's this bump in my girlfriend's hand (completely innocuous picture inside).

My girlfriend has a round bump, the size of a small pebble, in her right hand right at the base of her middle finger where it meets her palm (area circled in the picture). She's had it for a couple months and is quite paranoid that it is something sinister because it hurts slightly when she touches it. I don't think it's anything serious, but I was hoping someone here can help me put her at ease. Any one know what it is?

posted by reformedjerk to Health & Fitness (18 answers total)
Probably a cyst - if it hasn't grown quickly.
posted by DieHipsterDie at 9:00 PM on May 25, 2006

Ganglion cyst? Hard to see in the pic though.
posted by drpynchon at 9:02 PM on May 25, 2006

sounds like a ganglion cyst. i have had one on my left hand, at the bottom knuckle of my ring finger, for a couple of years. a rheumatologist i went to see said not to worry about it, but it also doesn't hurt at all.
posted by jimw at 9:03 PM on May 25, 2006

sounds like a ganglion cyst to me too. in my case, i accidentally banged it against something, felt a split-second burst of blinding pain, and then the pain was gone and the cyst was gone and everything was fine. a doctor might be able to drain it for her (and confirm that it really is just a ganglion cyst).
posted by clarahamster at 9:21 PM on May 25, 2006

Nothing helpful to add... but is that the subway platform at St. George station?
posted by easternblot at 9:33 PM on May 25, 2006

I also vote ganglion. I smashed mine wih a book on purpose. It hurt, but it is also gone.
posted by oflinkey at 9:33 PM on May 25, 2006

Probably a ganglion cyst which is basically some fluid that collects at a weak spot in the tendon sheath and forms a bubble. I had one and my doctor told me that often she just bashes them with a big book and they go away permanently. Mine was quite big as I'd torn the tendon and was painful for over 4 months so I opted for a surgical removal. It seemed like a good idea, right up until they injected about a pint of local anaesthetic right into the palm of my hand.
posted by fshgrl at 9:44 PM on May 25, 2006

I had one on my left hand that was quite large but disappeared after moving some furniture around one afternoon. I was quite thrilled because my tendon constantly popped across it, which was really annoying.
posted by lunalaguna at 9:58 PM on May 25, 2006

Easternblot, good eye! This picture was, in fact, taken on the westbound platform at St. George station. I checked out your blog, and it looks like we're in the same line of "work". Small world!
posted by reformedjerk at 10:01 PM on May 25, 2006

A number of likely scenarios, but hard to tell for certain without a closer view and especially without being able to feel it. As people have said, a ganglion cyst arising from the tendon sheath is a possibility. Also a possibility is a giant cell tumor (don't worry--despite the name this is basically a very benign and common lump), or sometimes an inclusion cyst, if she had a cut or puncture there that healed with some infolding of the skin. That's also near the spot that you'd feel a painful trigger finger nodule, but based on the picture I'm not sure.

The point is, there's lot's of things it could be, and hard to know for sure. The vast majority of lumps and bumps in the hand are benign. You should assure her of this--it is in all likelihood not sinister...

It's a good idea to get it looked at by a doctor especially if it is a) getting bigger, or b) is painful. (you've already indicated the latter, so...)

Ganglion cysts (if that's what this is--I'm not so sure) are just fluid filled sacks--sometimes they rupture on their own, sometimes they can be drained with a needle, but sometimes they also recur. Any of the above lumps can be removed.

With my biases on the table, I point you to a previous post of mine Re: who to see for this sort of thing. (albeit that one was a more complicated problem...)
posted by Dr. Sam at 10:14 PM on May 25, 2006

Lipoma is another possibility that I think is distinct from everything that has been mentioned so far.
posted by epugachev at 10:53 PM on May 25, 2006

IANAD but I have some recent experience with subcutaneous cysts, and this looks to me like one of those. I have gotten these in different parts of my body every so often from time to time for years.

I actually just went into the doctor to show him one that grew puffy and painful after being there for more than a year.

He said that the formation of these cysts is an appropriate immune response to a foreign agent of some kind. Bascially, your immune system swarms the outside invader and walls it off completely. At some point the immune response dies down and the body consumes the cyst.

Doctors can remove these by lancing the skin: aka cutting your girlfriends hand open to "scoop" this shit out. If she likes the sound of that, I'm sure she can get a doctor to take care of it for her. Otherwise, she should chill and learn to let it go away in its own time.

If it becomes red, hot, or painful, then it is infected and she should consult a doctor.
posted by scarabic at 12:20 AM on May 26, 2006

Do not "let it go away"... I had a giant-celled tumor of the tendon sheath in my finger (right index finger, in the tip). Before surgery, the doctor thought it was pigmented villonodular synovitis, but once he removed it, he said if we had left it alone, it would have grown more and more. As it was, he had to extend the incision past my first joint and had a heck of a time pulling it all out because it was wrapped around the bone. By "heck of a time," I mean I was wide awake, but my finger was numbed, and his tweezers or whatever tool he was using was pulling my entire lower arm up off the table and dropping it.
posted by IndigoRain at 12:46 AM on May 26, 2006

If it's a ganglion cyst, not too much to worry about. And I can't believe you recognized St George Station based on that tiny little cross-section, Eva. (Although, if it was Osgoode, I probably would have recognized it too).
posted by antifuse at 1:21 AM on May 26, 2006

I can't see from the picture, but aside from a ganglion cyst, could it perhaps be a verruca, or planar wart?
posted by Zero Gravitas at 9:22 AM on May 26, 2006

Not a ganglion cyst. Tendon sheath cysts are much more likely.
posted by docpops at 2:56 PM on May 26, 2006

Hah! As soon as I saw the photo I said, "Hmm. I can't tell what it is, but I KNOW within a dozen posts someone will ID the train station." Thanks for validating my faith in AskMe, easternblot.
posted by Rock Steady at 3:46 PM on May 26, 2006

My bad habit of looking at the ground finally found a useful purpose!
posted by easternblot at 9:26 PM on May 26, 2006

« Older Do I need the 900 MHz band in a GSM worldphone?   |   Help me! I think I'm losing my mind (literally!) Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.