Ganglion cysts are fluid-filled lumps that grow in joints or the tissue that connects muscles to bones (tendons). These fluid-filled lumps most often grow on the wrists or feet.
Ganglion cysts are round or oval in shape and are generally less than 2.5 cm in size. However, the size of the cyst can increase with increasing activity in the joint.
Ganglion cysts can happen to anyone, but are more common in women aged 20–40 years. Ganglion cysts are benign and generally cause no symptoms, but they can be painful and interfere with joint movement.
Ganglion Cyst Causes and Risk Factors
Ganglion cysts occur when joint fluid builds up and forms a pocket in a joint or tendon. Lumps filled with fluid are generally soft textured when pressed.
The cause of the formation of ganglion cysts is still not known with certainty. However, there are several conditions that are thought to increase the risk of ganglion cysts, namely osteoarthritis and joint injuries.
Ganglion Cyst Symptoms
Common signs and symptoms of ganglion cysts include:
- Appears one or more lumps in the hand
- The lump is soft and can be moved when pressed
- Tingling or numbness
- Pain in the joint that gets worse with movement
- Swelling in joints or tendons that can appear suddenly or over time
When to see a doctor
Check with your doctor if lumps appear in the joints of your hands, wrists, ankles and foot joints, whether accompanied by pain or not. The doctor will conduct an examination and determine whether the lump needs to be treated surgically or not.
Ganglion cyst diagnosis
To diagnose a ganglion cyst, the doctor will ask questions and answers about the patient's symptoms and medical history. After that, the doctor will carry out a thorough physical examination.
Next, the doctor will carry out several further tests to make a diagnosis. These checks include:
- Ultrasound (USG), to check whether the lump that appears is filled with liquid or solid tissue
- Needle biopsy , to detect cysts by taking a sample of fluid from the cyst and then examining it in the laboratory
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), to check whether the lump is a cyst or another disease, such as arthritis or certain tumors
Ganglion Cyst Treatment
Most cases of ganglion cysts don't cause symptoms and get better without treatment. However, if a ganglion cyst causes symptoms and interferes with activities, the doctor can perform the following methods:
Aspiration is the act of removing fluid in the cyst using a needle. Although effective, ganglion cysts can reappear at a later date.
Surgery is performed if aspiration is not effective in dealing with ganglion cysts. Based on its size and location, there are two types of surgery to remove ganglion cysts, namely open surgery and arthroscopy . These two surgeries are effective in preventing the recurrence of ganglion cysts.
To help the recovery process after surgery, the doctor will place a splint on the part being treated. This aims to protect the wrist from impact and reduce pain.
Ganglion cyst complications
Complications can occur if a ganglion cyst presses on the nerves in the joint, thereby interfering with joint movement. These complications can be:
- pins and needles
- Weak muscles
In addition, treatment for ganglion cysts can also cause health complications, such as:
- Infection of the surgical wound
- Growth of scar tissue on surgical scars
- Nervous disorder
- Blood vessel damage
Ganglion Cyst Prevention
As explained, the cause of ganglion cysts is still unknown, so it is difficult to prevent. However, earlier examination and treatment can be done to prevent the symptoms of ganglion cysts from getting worse.