How to treat a lymph node: 13 steps (with pictures)

How to treat a lymph node: 13 steps (with pictures)
How to treat a lymph node: 13 steps (with pictures)

Ganglia are round, spongy growths under the skin that usually form along tendons and joints, most often on the wrist. They could be very small or they could be three centimeters in diameter. Although they are usually not painful, the lymph nodes can interfere with movement of the joint or cause pain when pressing on it or the surrounding nerves. In many cases, the lymph nodes will go away on their own, but there are also techniques to deal with them when they appear.


Method 1 of 2: Treat the lymph node

Cope With Having a Ganglion Step 1

Step 1. Be patient

About 35% of lymph nodes do not cause pain, the only problem they do is cosmetic. Fortunately, between 38 and 58% of lymph nodes go away on their own. If the lymph node isn't causing you discomfort, you could just leave it and see if the situation resolves on its own.

Cope With Having a Ganglion Step 2

Step 2. Take anti-inflammatory pain relievers

There are many over-the-counter products that can help reduce inflammation. Reducing the inflammation will temporarily relieve the pain until the medication stops working and the inflammation returns. However, since many lymph nodes go away on their own, short-term pain management is the best way to wait for it to happen. Here are the three types of anti-inflammatory drugs generally available in pharmacies:

  • ibuprofen
  • naproxen
  • aspirin
Cope With Having a Ganglion Step 3

Step 3. Apply ice

If you feel pain in the lymph node, try applying something cold to it. You can buy a gel pack at a drugstore or just wrap ice cream or a pouch of frozen vegetables in a towel. Apply it directly to the area where you feel pain for up to 20 minutes. Do this every day and repeat every three hours if necessary.

Cope With Having a Ganglion Step 4

Step 4. Do not use the affected joint too often

Even though the exact cause of the lymph nodes is unknown, a predominant theory suggests that they are the result of trauma to the joint (eg a strong blow or overwhelming force). Another theory explains that they form when a joint is used too often. In all cases, limitation of movement of the joint is known to relieve pain and speed healing. Allow the affected limb to rest as much as possible.

Cope With Having a Ganglion Step 5

Step 5. Stabilize the joint with a splint if necessary

It might be difficult to remember to let your joint rest, especially if the node is on your wrist. Even though it's easy to remember not to put your foot down, it's going to be harder to stop talking with your hands! In this case, you should consider putting a splint on your joint. This will remind you to let your joint rest and limit the movements you can make with your limb.

  • Install a rigid object (such as a piece of wood) along the joint you want to stabilize. You can also wrap the joint in a magazine or thick towel.
  • The splint should extend past the joint in both directions to keep movement as limited as possible. For example, a wrist splint should extend up to the forearm and up to the hand.
  • Hold the splint in place with whatever you have on hand, a tie, tape, belt, etc.
  • Do not over tighten the splint, you must not stop the circulation. If you start to feel tingling in your hand or foot, loosen the splint.
Cope With Having a Ganglion Step 6

Step 6. Massage the lymph node

A ganglion is actually a bubble of fluid and when it presses against a nerve, it causes pain. To encourage the lymph node to empty naturally, doctors often suggest massaging the area. It is not necessary to use a particular technique or to seek advice from a physiotherapist. It is enough to rub the lymph node gently, but frequently during the day. Over time, you should see improvement in symptoms.

Cope With Having a Ganglion Step 7

Step 7. Do not crush the lymph node with a book

It was previously advised to try to crush the lymph nodes with a thick book like the Bible. Although you can get rid of it temporarily by crushing it with a heavy book, there is still a 22-65% chance that the node will return after using this method. In addition, you could cause further damage to the already damaged tissue around the lymph node or even break a bone by hitting too hard with the book.

Method 2 of 2: Seek professional treatment

Cope With Having a Ganglion Step 8

Step 1. Have a doctor empty the lymph node

If the lymph node hurts badly or interferes with the natural movements of your wrist, you should seek professional treatment to get rid of it. A professional can aspirate (or empty) the lymph node to get rid of the lump under the skin and prevent the node from rubbing against nerves and causing pain.

Your doctor might check the lymph node by shining a light through it. If the light passes through it, the doctor will assume that it is a lymph node filled with fluid

Cope With Having a Ganglion Step 9

Step 2. Prepare for suction

Although it is not a complex procedure, you should know what will happen when the doctor performs it. This will help you stay calm and relaxed during the procedure.

  • The doctor will apply a local anesthetic to numb the area around the lymph node.
  • He may inject an enzyme into the lymph node to make the fluid gel so that it can come out more easily.
  • The doctor will pierce the lymph node with a needle to extract the fluid. The liquid is considered as biological waste which will be treated and properly disposed of.
Cope With Having a Ganglion Step 10

Step 3. Ask the doctor if he recommends a steroid injection

Aspiration alone is usually not a permanent treatment. In one study, 59% of lymph nodes treated with aspiration alone returned after three months. However, administration of steroids to the site of the emptied lymph node was more effective, 95% of the lymph nodes disappeared completely six months after treatment.

Cope With Having a Ganglion Step 11

Step 4. Discuss surgical options with your doctor

Lymph nodes have a high rate of recurrence, which is why you might find that home treatment and even aspiration are not long-lasting solutions to your problem. If you have a persistent lymph node that keeps coming back, ask your doctor if it can be surgically removed.

  • It is usually an outpatient procedure in which the doctor anesthetizes you with an intravenous infusion.
  • Instead of just emptying the fluid into the lymph node, it will completely remove it, along with its connection to the tendon or joint. By removing it completely, it reduces the chances of a lymph node reappearing.
Cope With Having a Ganglion Step 12

Step 5. Know the risks of surgical removal

Just like any surgical procedure, it is possible that a problem will appear during the procedure. In rare cases, surgery can damage nerve tissue, blood vessels, or tendons in the area around the node. You could also be suffering from an infection or excessive bleeding.

Cope With Having a Ganglion Step 13

Step 6. Take good care of yourself after the procedure

The area around the lymph node will be painful and tender as it heals. Ask your doctor to prescribe a pain reliever, such as Vicodin, to help manage the pain until it goes away. Let the affected limb rest as much as possible for several days. For example, if the node was on your wrist, avoid certain activities like keyboarding or cooking for a while. Ask your doctor for a plan to recover that includes the following:

  • an estimate of the healing time required
  • activities that you should avoid especially while you are recovering
  • symptoms to look out for that might indicate a problem after the procedure

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