Ganglion cysts are benign, fluid filled lumps that form on the tendons and joints. Common sites for the cysts are the wrists and hands. Ganglion cysts feel spongy or firm when touched due to the jelly-like fluid. Ganglion cysts form less commonly on the ankles and feet. The cysts are usually round or oval shaped and can range in size from so tiny that they’re not visible to so large that they inhibit joint movement. Large ganglion cysts can also cause discomfort when using the nearby joint because large ganglion cysts can press on nerves. Symptoms may include burning, tingling, numbness and muscle weakness.
There isn’t a definitive reason for why ganglion cysts occur, but a common theory is that they form when the tissue surrounding a joint or tendon becomes displaced. This trauma to the tissue can cause a cyst to form. In addition, there are certain risk factors that may predispose a person to a ganglion cyst. For example, ganglion cysts are more likely to form in women between 20-40 years old. The cysts are also likely to occur in osteoarthritis sufferers. Finally, those who have had joint and tendon injuries in the past are at risk for ganglion cysts. There isn’t a way to prevent a ganglion cyst from forming. The only remedy is treating the ganglion cyst promptly, especially if it’s causing pain.
According to an Old Wive’s Tale, the best treatment for a ganglion cyst is to hit it with something heavy. However, modern day medicine offers a variety of ganglion cyst treatment options. Treatment options depend on the size of the cyst. Smaller cysts that aren’t causing any symptoms can either be drained or left alone; there’s a possibility that the cyst may resolve on its own without treatment. Treatment for larger cysts may involve immobilization if the cyst grows larger when the nearby joint is used. Immobilization allows the cyst to shrink to a smaller size by restricting movement of the joint. Once it has shrunk to a smaller size, the cyst can be drained. If the ganglion cyst fails to respond to this treatment, it can be surgically removed. Ibuprofen can also be used for any discomfort from a ganglion cyst. It is important that a person see a doctor to have a cyst drained and never attempt to drain a ganglion cyst on their own; there’s a risk of infection or scarring.
Cysts may recur after ganglion cyst treatment. The rate of recurrence depends on the treatment. Cysts that have been drained have a higher rate of recurrence whereas cysts removed surgically are less likely to recur. Ganglion cyst treatment may require several rounds of treatment.