Definition of Ganglion Cyst
A ganglion cyst is a bump or mass that forms under the skin. Most commonly, ganglions
are seen on the wrist (usually the back side) and fingers, but they can also develop on
the shoulder, elbow, and knee. These form when tissues surrounding certain joints become
inflamed and swell up with lubricating fluid. They can increase in size when the tissue is
irritated and often can "disappear" spontaneously. These masses or cysts appear
to grow sometimes but they are not tumours or cancerous.
Description of Ganglion Cyst
A ganglion is a non-cancerous cyst filled with a thick, jelly-like fluid. Ganglions can
develop on or beneath the surface of the skin and usually occur between the ages of 20 and
Most ganglions develop on the hand or wrist. This condition is common in people who
bowl or who play handball, raquetball, squash, or tennis. Runners and athletes who jump,
ski, or play contact sports often develop foot ganglions.
Causes & symptoms of Ganglion Cyst
Mild sprains or other repeated injuries can irritate and tear the thin membrane
covering a tendon, causing fluid to leak into a sac that swells and forms a ganglion.
Ganglions are usually painless, but range of motion may be impaired. Flexing or bending
the affected area can cause discomfort, as can continuing to perform the activity that
caused the condition.
Cysts on the surface of the skin usually develop slowly but may result from injury or
severe strain. An internal ganglion can cause soreness or a dull, aching sensation, but
the mass cannot always be felt. Symptoms sometimes become evident only when the cyst
causes pressure on a nerve or outgrows the membrane surrounding it.
Diagnosis of Ganglion Cyst
Diagnosis is usually made through physical examination as well as such imaging studies
as x ray, ultrasound, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Fluid may be withdrawn from
the cyst and evaluated.
Treatment of Ganglion Cyst
Some ganglions disappear without treatment, and some reappear despite treatment.
Acetaminophen (Tylenol) or other over-the-counter analgesics can be used to control
mild pain. Steroids or local anesthetics may be injected into cysts that cause severe pain
or other troublesome symptoms. Surgery performed in a hospital operating room or an
outpatient facility, is the only treatment guaranteed to remove a ganglion. The condition
can recur if the entire cyst is not removed.
A doctor should be notified if the surgical site drains, bleeds, or becomes
The patient may bathe or shower as usual, but should keep the surgical site dry and
covered with a bandage for two or three days after the operation. Patients may resume
normal activities as soon as they feel comfortable doing so.
- Swollen or if the patient feels ill or develops:
- Head or muscle aches
- Fever following surgery.
Prognosis of Ganglion Cyst
Possible complications include excessive post-operative bleeding and infection of the
surgical site. Calcification, or hardening, of the ganglion is rare.
Prevention of Ganglion Cyst
Exercises that increase muscle strength and flexibility can prevent ganglions. Warming
and cooling down before and after workouts may also decrease the rate of developing