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Ganglion Cyst

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 40.

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 Fluid may be withdrawn from the cyst and evaluated.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.

  • Inflamed
  • Painful
  • Swollen or if the patient feels ill or develops:
  • Head or muscle aches
  • Dizziness
  • 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 ganglions.

 hand   wrist   elbow  soulder  ankle   knee


Ganglion Cyst Picture


This web site is intended for your own informational purposes only. No person or entity associated with this web site purports to be engaging in the practice of medicine through this medium. The information you receive is not intended as a substitute for the advice of a physician or other health care professional. If you have an illness or medical problem, contact your health care provider.


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