If you suffer from severe pain caused by a Ganglion cyst, please Schedule an appointment with one of our orthopedic specialists as soon as possible.
What is a ganglion cyst?
Ganglion cysts are a benign, non-cancerous entity. They are not dangerous, but can interfere with joint motion and can cause discomfort. Ganglion cysts can develop around any joint in the body as they are extensions of the joint capsule that has ballooned outside of the joint and is filled with joint fluid. These cysts are commonly found in the wrist. Smaller cysts, called mucous cysts, can be found around the joints in the fingers.
What causes ganglion cysts?
We do not know what exactly causes ganglion cysts to form. Wrist ganglion cysts are commonly seen in young people and finger mucous cysts are commonly seen in the presence of arthritis in the finger joints in older populations.
What are the symptoms of a ganglion cyst?
You may have a small ganglion cyst and not know it. Ganglion cysts can be asymptomatic, not noticeable and not painful. If they grow in size, they can become noticeable and will feel like a bouncy fluid-filled sac. This sac can increase and decrease in size and ganglion cysts can even spontaneously burst or reabsorb and disappear. If the ganglion cyst becomes big enough to compress structures such as surrounding nerves, or interfere with joint motion- they can become uncomfortable and bothersome.
Diagnosis and Treatment
The diagnosis of ganglion cysts is performed via clinical examination. At times X rays are taken to evaluate surrounding joints for arthritis. An MRI or US may be performed to confirm the fluid-filled ganglion cyst if there is suspicion for the possibility of a different mass. MRI can also be helpful in diagnosis of a hidden, or occult, ganglion.
Since ganglion cysts are not dangerous, watchful waiting can be appropriate for ganglion cysts. Immobilization with a splint and anti-inflammatory medications can be prescribed. Aspiration of the ganglion cyst can be performed, but this leaved the stalk of the ganglion cyst which connects it to the joint and the cyst will often refill with joint fluid. The most definitive treatment for ganglion cysts is surgical excision. Even when excised, ganglion cysts may recur. Mucous cysts can be excised also, but can recur as well, especially in the setting of an arthritic finger joint. In some situations, especially if painful arthritis is present, finger joint fusion may be appropriate and will prevent mucous cysts from recurring.
AAOS- American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons ganglion cyst OrthoInfo webpage.
ASSH- American Society of Hand Surgery ganglion cyst Handcare webpage.