Ganglion cyst is a likely cause of wrist pain

Q&a

December 16, 2005|By GAILOR LARGE | GAILOR LARGE,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

My left wrist has been bothering me (on the top, not the inside). I don't notice it often, but when I do it's severe enough to keep me from doing things like push-ups. What do you think it is?

We posed your question to Libby Harnois, outpatient physical therapist at St. Joseph Medical Center. She suggests these three possible causes: (a) a cyst, probably a ganglion cyst, (b) nerve impingement, or (c) bony impaction. The ganglion cyst is most common, she says, and "If it's large enough, a cyst would interfere with join mechanics and become painful."

However, it's impossible for a medical professional to diagnose without seeing you or at least getting more symptom details. If the pain becomes bothersome, Harnois recommends scheduling an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon specializing in hands.

"All that may be necessary to diagnose it is a quick physical evaluation, or more diagnostic tests may be needed," she says.

Taking care of this now will at least put your mind at ease and may prevent a more serious problem from developing.

My trainer wants me to develop my fast twitch muscle fibers. What is he talking about? I couldn't really follow when we discussed it.

First and foremost, you should always ask for clarification if you don't understand something your trainer tells you. He's there for you, after all.

If you don't ask questions, he will assume your silence means you understand, but it's crucial that you actually do. So speak up, don't be shy, and show him that you're committed by communicating your confusion or concerns to him.

That said, fast-twitch, or type II, muscle fibers are those used for quick bursts of high-intensity exercise. Slow-twitch, or type I, fibers support longer, slower exercise. Fast-twitch fibers fire more rapidly, allowing the muscle a jolt of force, but they also tire more quickly. For sustained exercise, such as a marathon, it is the slow- twitch fibers that get you through.

As for the theory that you can "develop" your fast-twitch fibers, the research is continuing. There is a clear genetic component to the ratio of fast- to slow-twitch fibers in your muscles. The jury is still out on whether, or how much, you can alter your muscle fiber type through training.

Is it true that it's easier for men to lose weight than women?

Yes, in general it's true that men can shed pounds faster than women. For one, they usually have a higher percentage of lean muscle (i.e. calorie-blasting power). Secondly, they carry more weight to begin with, and the heavier you are, the more calories you'll burn. Keep in mind, though, a woman losing 5 pounds off a 130-pound frame is equivalent to a man losing 10 pounds off a 260-pound frame.

Overall, weight loss is a personal undertaking and varies for every individual, man or woman. A very active woman, for instance, probably has a much higher metabolism than her sedentary male counterpart. Success comes with finding and sticking to an exercise and meal routine that works for you.

Do you have a fitness question? You can submit questions via e-mail to fitness@baltsun.com, or online at baltimoresun.com/healthscience, or in writing to The Sun, Fitness Q&A, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, MD 21278.

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