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Arthritis and Rheumatism

What Could Little Balls in the Wrist Indicate?

12/05/2007

Question:

I have RA in my hands. When I make a fist, in the middle of my wrist, I can see what I think are the tendons move back and forth as I move my fingers. But it looks like thereĀ are little balls on them. I thought that it might be nodules or ganglin cycsts. I didn`t think that I could get those things since I am seronegetive. Is this normal and what could this be?

Answer:

You are right. It is possible that they are rheumatoid nodules or ganglion (aka, synovial or mucinous) cysts. Although rheumatoid nodules are associated with a positive rheumatoid factor (RF) in the overwhelming majority of cases, it is still possible to see them in a small percent of individuals with seronegative rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

Synovial cysts are a distinct entity from rheumatoid nodules. A cyst forms from the lining of the joint or tendon usually due to an "irritatant" (for lack of a better word) effect from degenerative arthritis, inflammatory arthritis, trauma, or other causes including no specific known cause.

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Response by:

Raymond  Hong, MD, MBA, FACR Raymond Hong, MD, MBA, FACR
Formerly, Assistant Professor of Medicine
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University