One of the unfortunate results of some exercise regimes is repetitive stress injuries, caused by frequent repetitions of a single motion. These might include carpal tunnel syndrome, de Quervain's tendinitis or odd swellings called ganglion cysts in your wrist. Whether your injury is caused by exercise or other factors, pushups and other high-stress exercises can make them worse.
A buildup of fluid in inflamed joints is the cause of a ganglion cyst. The fluid creates a bubble in the affected area, which is unsightly but innocuous. The cyst itself is seldom painful or sensitive, though depending on the location, can be inconvenient and might interfere with a full range of motion. A ganglion cyst is primarily a factor if it is located in a place where pressure is applied to it in the course of normal physical activity, such as work requirements or exercises including pushups.
With the possible exception of wrist curls with free weights or at the gym, pushups are the single exercise most likely to aggravate a ganglion cyst. A well-executed pushup applies significant force to the wrist, causing its muscles and tendons to strain and bulge. If you have one or more ganglion cysts, this kind of activity can cause your muscles or tendons to contract around the cyst. Depending where the cyst is located, this might cause it to press against an inflamed joint or a cluster of nerves, causing discomfort or shooting pain.
According to the Ohio State University's Medical Center, ganglion cysts are the most common form of non-cancerous tumors found on hands and wrists. However, there are other conditions that can cause growths on your wrist, so don't rely on self-diagnosis. See your physician, who will advise you if you have a ganglion cyst or another form of growth that presents itself in a similar way. Although ganglion cysts are benign, other growths might not be.
Care and Treatment
Many ganglion cysts go away without medical intervention, though it can take up to five years, notes the Hand to Elbow Clinic. It's possible to slow the growth of a ganglion cyst, as well as alleviate the underlying joint inflammation, by taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin, ibuprofen or naproxen. Cortisone injections at the site can also bring relief. If the cyst is causing you pain or discomfort, or interfering with your daily activities, your physician might choose to drain or "aspirate" the cyst with a needle. In the most severe cases, you might require surgery.
- Hand to Elbow Specialist Care: Ganglion
- American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons: De Quervain's Tendinitis (De Quervain's Tendinosis)
- Ohio State University Medical Center: Hand Pain and Problems
- National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke: Repetitive Motion Disorders Information Page
- Medline Plus: Wrist Pain