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Ganglion Cysts Definition

Ganglion cysts are non-cancerous lumps that most commonly develop along the tendons or joints of wrists or hands. They can also sometimes occur in the ankles and feet. Ganglion cysts are typically round or oval in shape and are filled with a jellylike fluid.

The smaller ganglion cysts can be pea-sized, while larger ones can be up to an inch in diameter. Ganglion cysts can be painful if they press on a nearby nerve. Their location can sometimes interfere with joint movement.

Ganglion Cysts Symptoms

The lumps that are formed as a result of ganglion cysts are characterised by the following:

  • Location: The places at which ganglion cysts are likely to develop are along the tendons or joints of the wrists or hands. They can also form in the ankles and feet and near other joints as well.
  • Pain: Ganglion cysts usually are painless. But if a cyst presses on a nerve, even if the cyst is too small to form a noticeable lump it can cause pain, tingling, numbness or muscle weakness.
  • Shape and size: The size of a cyst can fluctuate, often getting larger when the joint is used for repetitive motions.

Ganglion Cysts Risk factors

Patients may be at a higher risk of developing a ganglion cyst in the following cases

  • Women in the age group of 20 to 40
  • Suffer from osteoarthritis
  • Have had a local injury such as fracture or dislocation
  • Feel weakness of local tissues
  • Partake in certain activities in which pressure and strain are put on joints such as gymnastics or tennis

Ganglion Cysts Diagnosis

In order to confirm a diagnosis of ganglion cysts, the doctor will recommend a medical exam. During the physical exam, he/she doctor may apply pressure to the cyst to check for tenderness or discomfort.

He/she may also recommend the following tests to rule out other possibilities:

  • X-ray
  • MRI scan
  • Ultrasound

Ganglion Cysts Treatment

Ganglion cysts are usually painless and require no treatment at all. But if a lump interferes with the movement of a joint, the doctor will suggest the following types of treatment:

  • Immobilisation of the area with a brace or splint
  • Aspiration is a procedure in which your doctor uses a needle to drain fluid from the cyst
  • Surgery to remove the cyst and the stalk that attaches it the joint or tendon

UPDATED ON 15/11/2023

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