A ganglion cyst, also known as a Bible cyst, is a benign tumor-like growth that occurs on the fingers, hands or wrists, and is situated over a tendon or joint. The cysts can also develop on the feet and ankles. The growth is filled with a thick clear liquid or jelly-like substance. The cyst can develop as a single growth or there can be multiple smaller cysts that are connected by a common stalk deep within the tissue.
What causes a Ganglion Cyst?
The exact cause of ganglion cysts is unknown.
What are the symptoms of a Ganglion Cyst?
Symptoms of ganglion cysts include the development of a bump or an area of swelling that may change in size over time. The growth may develop gradually or may appear suddenly. It may decrease in size or even disappear, but will then reappear at another time. Most cysts cause a constant pain that increases when the joint is in motion. In some cases, weakness, numbness or tingling may be felt if the cyst is attached to a tendon or is compressing a tendon or nerve. Some ganglion cysts cause no symptoms other than the appearance of a bump or area of swelling.
How is a Ganglion Cyst diagnosed?
A medical professional can usually diagnose a ganglion cyst by looking at the mass or swelling that appears on the hand, fingers, or wrist and feeling it. A syringe can be inserted into the mass and if fluid can be extracted, it is a cyst and not another type of growth. An ultrasound or MRI can provide a better look at the soft tissue in the area and can show whether the mass is solid or fluid filled (cysts always contain fluid) and where the stem of the cyst is located, although these tests are not usually necessary.
When should I seek care for a Ganglion Cyst?
If you notice a growth on your fingers, hand or wrist that does not go away after a short period of time or that disappears and reappears at a later time, you should have it looked at by a medical professional. If the growth is accompanied by pain, numbness and tingling, you should seek prompt medical attention to determine the cause and treat the symptoms.
What will the treatment for a Ganglion Cyst consist of?
If a ganglion cyst causes no painful symptoms, then no treatment is necessary. If, however, the growth causes pain, weakness, numbness or tingling, a medical professional can aspirate the cyst to remove the fluid inside and can inject cortisone to reduce swelling. This is effective in some cases, but not all (the recurrence rate is around 50%). In some cases, aspiration must occur multiple times in order to be effective. If the ganglion cyst keeps reappearing after multiple aspirations or the growth is causing excessive pain or weakness, surgery to remove the cyst may be recommended. Depending on the size, location and severity of symptoms that the cyst causes, physical therapy may be recommended following removal of a cyst to re-strengthen the area surrounding the cyst.
Which muscle groups/joints are commonly affected by a Ganglion Cyst?
A ganglion cyst is most likely to appear over a tendon or joint in the fingers, hand or wrist. It can also occur in the feet or ankles.
What type of results should I expect from the treatment of a Ganglion Cyst?
In some cases, no treatment is necessary for ganglion cysts. When aspiration is done to remove the cyst, there is a recurrence rate of around 50%. The cyst may be aspirated multiple times and is less likely to reappear after multiple aspirations. When surgery is done to excise the cyst, the procedure is minor and is usually successful in permanently removing the cyst, although there is still a slight chance that the cyst will reappear.