What is a Ganglion Cyst?
A ganglion cyst is a tumor or swelling on top of a joint or the covering of a tendon that looks like a sac of liquid (cyst). Inside the cyst is a thick, sticky, clear, jellylike material. Depending on the size, cysts may feel firm or spongy.
One large cyst or many smaller ones may develop. Multiple small cysts can give the appearance of more than one cyst, but a common stalk within the deeper tissue usually connects them. This type of cyst is not harmful and accounts for about half of all soft tissue tumors of the hand.
Symptoms of Ganglion Cysts
- The ganglion cyst usually appears as a bump (mass) that changes size.
- It is usually soft, and doesn’t move.
- The swelling may appear over time or appear suddenly, may get smaller in size, and may even go away, only to come back at another time.
- Most ganglion cysts cause some degree of pain, which is usually nonstop, aching, and made worse by joint motion.
- When the cyst is connected to a tendon, you may feel a sense of weakness in the affected finger.
Diagnosis of Ganglion Cysts
A physical exam is often all that is needed to diagnose a ganglion cyst.
- Your doctor may get further confirmation by using a syringe to draw out some of the fluid in the cyst or ultrasound.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is used to see the wrist and is very useful for ganglions.
Treatment of Ganglion Cysts
Many ganglion cysts can disappear without any treatment at all. Various treatments have been proposed over the years including the use of a needle to remove the cyst’s contents (aspiration), or surgery.
Aspiration includes placing a needle into the cyst, drawing the liquid out, injecting a steroid compound (which acts as an anti-inflammatory agent), and then splinting the wrist to keep it from moving.
Surgical removal of the cyst is needed when the mass is painful, interferes with function, or causes numbness or tingling of the hand or fingers.
We want to be your trusted Orthopaedic Specialists of New Orleans. If you are experiencing the symptoms of ganglion cysts of your writs and hand, please call our office at (504) 897-7877 and a member of our caring staff will be happy to help you.
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