October 24, 2019

Paul Nielsen, MD

Orthopaedic Surgeon

What Are the Symptoms of a Mucous Cyst?

  • Swelling or a mass on the backside of the finger next to the end knuckle
    • Often painful when the area is touched
  • Redness or even drainage can occur if the skin becomes thin
    • Drainage can lead to an infection and more serious problems
  • The nail can develop a ridge if the cyst becomes large enough 

What Causes a Mucous Cyst?

  • A hole develops in the joint lining of the knuckle and fluid escapes
    • Often a small bone spur causes this hole
  • Your body tries to wall off the fluid and forms the cyst
  • Thick, sticky, clearish-yellow fluid normally fills the cyst

What Are the Treatment Options for a Mucous Cyst?

  • Observation is always an option if the cyst is not bothersome and not draining
  • Aspiration, popping it, or a punch biopsy are not a good treatment option
    • These can create to a draining wound into the joint that gets infected, requiring a much more extensive surgery and worse outcome
  • Removal of the cyst with a small procedure involves cleaning out the hole in the joint lining and removing the bone spur that caused it
  • The procedure is usually performed with just local anesthesia in about 10 minutes
    • No IV, no fasting, and no recovery from anesthesia medicines

What Is Recovery Like After Surgery?

  • Patients normally are in a soft dressing for a few days after surgery
    • Sutures are removed 10-14 days after surgery
  • Light use of the hand is encouraged immediately after surgery
    • Heavy use of the and is allowed about two weeks after surgery
  • Hand therapy is usually not required

Bothered by a mass on your finger? Please call New West at 308-865-2570 to make an appointment with Dr. Nielsen today. No referral required.


About the Author

Paul Nielsen, MD is an orthopedic surgeon specializing in hand & upper extremity surgery at New West Sports Medicine & Orthopaedic Surgery in Kearney, NE.

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