What Are the Basics of Ganglion Cyst?

What is Ganglion cyst?

Ganglion cyst refers to the round or oval lumps that develop along the tendons or joints of the wrists, hands, ankles, or feet. In some rare cases, it can also develop in other joints. Ganglion cysts are filled with a jellylike fluid and have different sizes, from pea size to an inch (2.5 centimeters) in diameter.


What are the symptoms of ganglion cyst?

Some people with ganglion cyst may have no symptoms. The possible symptoms include:

  • Lumps in the wrist, hands, ankles, feet or other joints.
    But some lumps are so small that you can’t feel it.
  • Pain, tingling, numbness or muscle weakness.
    Commonly, ganglion cyst doesn’t produce pain. But if the cyst presses on nerves, it will be painful.

Talk to your doctor if you have above symptoms.


What causes ganglion cyst?

The exact causes of ganglion cyst are still unknown, but many factors may increase the risk of the disease. These risk factors include:

  • Joint or tendon injury.
    People who have experienced injuries in joints or tendons are at higher risk of developing ganglion cysts.
  • Osteoarthritis.
    People with wear-and-tear arthritis in the finger joints near the fingernails are more likely to develop ganglion cysts near these joints.
  • Gender and age.
    Ganglion cysts can develop in both genders and all ages, but women from age 20 to age 40 are more like to develop the disease.

How to diagnose ganglion cyst?

In order to diagnose ganglion cyst, your may need to do following tests:

  • Physical tests.
    Your doctor may press the cyst to test its tenderness and ask your feelings.
    Your doctor may shine a light through the cyst to see whether it’s a solid mass or filled with fluid.
  • Imaging tests.
    You may also need to do some imaging tests, including X-rays, ultrasound or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Imaging tests can help rule out other conditions and find hidden cysts.
  • Aspiration.
    Your doctor may use a needle and syringe to draw out some fluid from the cyst for further tests.


What are the treatments for ganglion cyst?

If you have no symptoms, you don’t need any treatments. The cyst will disappear on its own in many cases. However, if the cysts cause pain or other symptoms, you can choose following treatments:

  • Medication
    You can use some over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) or naproxen sodium (Aleve), to ease pain.
  • Immobilization.
    Immobilization is a temporary option to relieve pain. It uses a brace or splint to immobilize the affected area and prevent the cyst from enlarging. The cyst may shrink and release the pressure on the nerves, so that the pain will be relieved. But it’s just a temporary option, you can’t use it for a long time, or it may cause damage to nearby tissues.
  • Aspiration.
    Your doctor uses a needle to draw out the fluid from the cyst, but the cyst may recur.
  • Surgery.
    Your doctor will remove the cyst and the stalk that attaches the cyst to the joint or tendon. The cysts may also recur.

Don’t thump the cyst with heavy objects or draw out the fluid on your own. See your doctor if the cyst cause discomforts.

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* The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.