Wrist Ganglion Exercise

Physiotherapist massaging her patients hand
Physical therapist working on a woman's wrist (Image: Wavebreakmedia/iStock/Getty Images)

A wrist ganglion cyst is a fluid-filled sac under the skin that can compress the nerves in the wrist to cause pain. The cause of ganglions is unknown, but women get them more frequently than men according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Resting the wrist and massaging the ganglion can bring relief, but surgery or injecting anti-inflammatory drugs is sometimes needed. Rehabilitation exercises after rest or surgery restores strength and mobility in the wrist.

Passive Range-of-Motion Exercises

Passive range of motion exercises are part of rehabilitation for wrist ganglion cyst surgery. Such exercises move your fingers and wrists through their full normal range of motion. Passive means that a caregiver moves your wrist while you remain passive and relaxed. These exercises occur in rehabilitation when patients do not have the strength or ability to move their joints through a full range of motion by themselves. An example of a PROM exercise is the wrist rotation. As you lie on your back with your arms at your sides, your therapist lifts your injured hand and moves it forward and backward, side to side and in circles to manipulate the wrist.

Active Range of Motion Exercises

Active range of motion exercises are more common for people with wrist ganglions. You move your wrist on your own, which makes the exercises active. An example of an AROM exercise is the wrist radial/ulnar deviation. To perform this exercise, rest your palm flat on a table, then rotate your forearm until your pinky side of your hand rests on the table, thumb on top. Then rotate your hand the other way toward the thumb side of your hand.

Strengthening Exercises Without Weight

Wrist-strengthening exercises, such as isometric flexion/extensions or squeezing silly putty, strengthen the wrists without using weights. The isometric flexion/extension exercises place the joint under less stress than weighted exercises. You can do this either with a therapist or by yourself using your opposite hand for resistance. To begin, sit down and rest your injured forearm on your thigh with your palm facing up. Place your other palm on top of the injured one, then press up with your injured hand to do isometric flexion. The other hand resists so there is no movement. Turn your palm over and make a fist, then extend your wrist upwards as you resist against your good hand.

Weighted Hand-Strengthening Exercises

Using weights can strengthen your wrists with movement. The weights should be light -- 5 pounds or less -- to prevent injury. The free weight wrist flexion and free weight wrist extension are examples of weighted exercises. To begin, sit and rest your forearm on a flat surface with your injured wrist and the dumbbell hanging over the edge. Begin with your wrist facing up, then flexing your wrist toward you. Turn your wrist over to face the floor, then extend your wrist toward you.

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