Ganglion cysts are round or oval lumps that can develop around the wrist and hand. Occasionally, ganglion cysts can also appear on the wrist or ankles. These cysts can be small, about the size of a pea, or can be as much as an inch in diameter. While cysts are not cancerous, they can interfere with movement in the joints, or cause pain if pressing on a nearby nerve. Some patients may feel like a ganglion cyst is unsightly or results in irritation when completing daily tasks.

What Causes a Ganglion Cyst?

A ganglion cyst develops out of the tendon lining or bulges out of a joint. Cysts appear to occur when the tissue protecting the tendon or joint moves out of place. In appearance, it looks like a balloon on a stick and contains a thick, jelly-like fluid. The exact cause of a ganglion cyst is unknown; however, several risk factors have been identified.

Although ganglion cysts are found across all ages and genders, they most often occur in women between the ages of twenty and forty. A history of osteoarthritis strengthens the risk of developing a ganglion cyst. This risk is increased if arthritis has damaged the distal IP joint at the end of the finger. If you have previously damaged the joint or tendon due to sporting or other activities, this could inflate your chances of cysts appearing.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Lumps appearing anywhere on the body can be cause for concern, regardless of discomfort levels. If you are at all concerned, you should seek medical advice as soon as possible. This will allow your doctor to rule out more serious conditions like arthritis or cancer.

Your doctor may shine a light through the cyst to determine if it is solid or fluid filled. They could also recommend imaging tests like an MRI, X-ray or ultrasound. In most instances, ganglion cysts can be resolved by immobilizing the area for a short period, or by drawing the fluid from the cyst. Otherwise, the cyst can be surgically removed.

If you are concerned that you may have a ganglion cyst, do not hesitate to contact Dr. Steven Struhl today to discuss your treatment options.