Ganglion Cyst

What are ganglion cysts?

These are soft tissue swellings commonly found around the wrist or at the base of the fingers. This is due to degenerative changes of the joint capsule resulting in cyst formation at these joints. Those who overuse these joints and cause damage to them tend to be at higher risk. Studies have also found that women in their teen years to early forties are the most at-risk for these cysts to develop. Around 58% of Ganglion Cysts will disappear over time.

What are the signs and symptoms?

These are swelling commonly seen over the dorsal or volar aspect of the wrist and sometimes at the base of the fingers. They are generally painless but pressure on these cysts may cause discomfort. These cysts appear to be very hard and patients do occasionally note that the size of these swellings change i.e. it may grow or even disappear completely.

In some cases, the cyst will push onto a nerve in the body. This will cause pain whenever you move the area where the cyst has formed. This can also cause you to feel weakness in that particular joint. In rare cases, the cyst's location can impede the free movement of that joint too. The cysts can form in various textures and sizes. They might have a bone-like hardness or a jelly-like softness.

What are the treatment options?

In most cases, if the cyst is asymptomatic, no treatment is necessary. Treatment for Ganglion Cysts includes observation, aspiration, or excision. We do recommend surgical excision if the cysts cause pain or discomfort or are increasing in size. Surgical excision also has the lowest recurrence rate.

Keep in mind that cyst surgery still carries risks, namely a chance of infection. After the surgery, you need to rest the affected area for several days. Certain gentle exercises can help to keep your joints from locking up. Minor swelling will also appear around the site sometimes. If this happens, apply ice until the swelling goes back down. After several weeks, the site should heal completely.

When to See a Doctor?

See a doctor if your cyst reaches a noticeable size or causes you significant pain. The important thing is that these cysts are not malignant but might be an early indication of joint conditions such as osteoarthritis. Diagnosis of this condition is based on medical history and clinical examination. X-rays may be required to assess the joints around the cyst. Deeper Ganglion Cysts might also need to be observed through MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging).

Frequently Asked Questions

What happens if you hit a Ganglion Cyst?

Hitting the affected area with blunt force causes pain and infection with a high chance of recurrence. If possible, reduce repetitive movement on the affected area to reduce discomfort.

What happens if a Ganglion Cyst bursts?

When a Ganglion Cyst bursts, the fluid will spread beneath the skin and it will cause swelling and redness on the affected area. Seek medical advice if the swelling and discomfort do not go away after a few days.

How long does a Ganglion Cyst last?

Although most Ganglion Cysts go away without treatment, it can take up to 12-18 months to disappear. Around 58% of Ganglion Cysts will disappear over time and those that did not disappear, usually seek for professional advise especially when it is associated with pain.

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