Ganglion Cysts: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatment
A ganglion cyst (plural: ganglia) is a small fluid-filled lump that forms just beneath the skin near a joint, most commonly on the wrist, finger, or foot.
How common are ganglion cysts?
Ganglia are some of the most common benign (noncancerous) masses that develop in the body. No one knows what causes a ganglion cyst to grow, but it could be caused by an injury to a joint that allows tissue to leak or bulge out.
Who gets ganglion cysts?
Women are three times more likely than men to develop a ganglion cyst in their hands, and people with arthritis frequently get one near their fingertips (at the joint closest to the nail), but this does not mean they have arthritis.
What are the symptoms of ganglion cysts?
This mass puts pressure on the body and may cause inflammation.
Where do ganglion cysts appear?
Ganglion cysts commonly develop on the wrist, finger, foot, and ankle, and using the joint near the cyst may increase swelling and worsen any discomfort you’re experiencing.
What does a ganglion cyst look like?
A ganglion cyst is a cyst that sits just beneath the skin’s surface, and it can be translucent (you can see through it at certain angles). It can be symmetrical (round) or misshapen (more like an oval).
Are ganglion cysts hard or soft?
The difference between a ganglion and a synovial cell is that ganglion cysts are firm to the touch but move easily under your skin. Your healthcare provider may order an MRI or an ultrasound to reveal them.
How are ganglion cysts treated?
Splints or braces provide support and prevent you from moving the affected area, which helps to reduce swelling. Aspiration is a procedure in which your provider removes fluid from the cyst using a needle.
When does a ganglion cyst need surgery?
Ganglion cysts are benign masses that can cause pain, swelling, and discomfort. Surgeons remove ganglia by removing the entire cyst; they are not cancerous. In about 5% to 15% of cases, ganglia reappear after surgery.
What is the prognosis (outlook) for people with ganglion cysts?
Ganglion cysts are harmless lumps that pose no long-term health risk. If a cyst is affecting your quality of life, talk to your doctor about treatment options like splints, over-the-counter pain relievers, or surgery.
Is a ganglion cyst hard or soft?
Ganglia are usually (but not always) firm to the touch, though some people describe fluid-filled cysts as soft, and the lump will likely move around under your skin.
Does a ganglion cyst feel hard?
These cysts can be very small or grow to be unsightly, and they can appear as a single cyst or multiple lobes. Some cysts feel quite hard, and they can be mistaken for a bony prominence. Ganglion cysts can appear anywhere on the body, but they most commonly appear on the back of the wrist.
What is the best treatment for a ganglion cyst?
- Because activity can cause the ganglion cyst to grow larger, your doctor may recommend immobilizing the area with a brace or splint.
- Aspiration. This procedure involves your doctor using a needle to drain the fluid from the cyst.
- Surgery. If other options haven’t worked, surgery may be an option.
Do ganglion cysts go away on their own?
In many cases, ganglion cysts resolve on their own, without the need for medical intervention. Treatment options include surgery or needle drainage of the cyst.
Can you massage a ganglion cyst away?
Can You Massage a Ganglion Cyst Away? Massage will not usually remove a ganglion cyst. However, massaging a ganglion cyst may cause some of the fluid to seep out of the sac, causing the cyst to shrink.
How long do ganglion cysts last?
Most ganglion cysts disappear without treatment, and some reappear despite treatment. It can take a long time to disappear, up to 12 to 18 months, so if it isn’t causing any pain, the health provider may advise simply watching and waiting.
How can you tell the difference between a ganglion cyst and a tumor?
Cysts are sacs of tissue that are filled with another substance, such as air or fluid, whereas tumors are solid masses of tissue. Cysts can form anywhere on the body, including the bones and soft tissues, and are usually noncancerous.
What can be mistaken for a ganglion cyst?
Carpal Bosses resemble bone spurs and are frequently confused with ganglion cysts.
When should I see a doctor for a ganglion cyst?
When to see a doctor If you notice a lump on your wrist, hand, ankle, or foot, see your doctor right away, especially if it’s painful. Your doctor will diagnose the condition and recommend a treatment plan, whether it’s a ganglion cyst or not.
Should a ganglion cyst be removed?
Surgical removal of severe ganglion cysts can be quite beneficial. Some people with ganglion cysts may never experience pain or limited movement, so they may not need surgery. However, when a cyst becomes large and cannot be treated with other methods, surgical removal can provide relief.
What is the difference between a ganglion cyst and a synovial cyst?
Doctors can’t tell the difference between ganglion and synovial cysts with the naked eye; they can only tell the difference after your doctor removes and inspects the cyst. A synovial cyst has a thin film of tissue around it (synovium), whereas a ganglion cyst doesn’t.
Can a ganglion cyst be removed without surgery?
Many ganglion cysts can be treated without surgery, and your doctor may suggest the following treatments before recommending surgery.
What happens if a ganglion cyst goes untreated?
Ganglion cysts are painless in the majority of cases, and they can change in size to grow larger or smaller, or even disappear completely. However, if the cyst growth presses on nearby nerves, ganglion cysts can cause muscle weakness, tingling, and pain.
How fast do ganglion cysts grow?
Meanwhile, depending on the activity associated with the joint, the cyst can grow to its full potential, similar to the size of a golf ball, at any time. Someone who uses the joint frequently may see a one-inch cyst growth within the first week.
How do you get rid of a ganglion cyst in a book?
A ganglion cyst was once treated by striking it with a large and heavy book, which caused the cyst to rupture and drain into the surrounding tissues. Historically, a Bible was the largest or only book in any given household, and was used for this treatment.