A ganglion cyst is a non-cancerous, round, fluid-filled lump of tissue that tends to appear along the joints or tendons. It usually occurs on the hand or wrist and also on the ankle or foot.
The ganglion cyst ranges in size, from a pea to a golf ball and it resembles a water balloon on a stalk. Although this type of cyst is harmless, it can cause pain if it is pushed against a nerve. The cyst can also make some movement difficult depending on its location and size.
Causes of Ganglions
Ganglion cysts mostly occur when fluid accumulates around the tendons or in a joint in the wrist, hand, foot or ankle. The fluid accumulation may be due to trauma, injury or overuse but the exact cause of ganglion cysts is unknown.
Symptoms of Ganglions
Ganglion cysts usually form near a joint and can be visually recognized by a doctor. These types of cysts are either soft or hard and can move freely under the skin.
The most common symptom is usually a visible lump, pain and discomfort on the area. If the cyst is on your ankle you may feel some discomfort when wearing shoes or walking. If the ganglion cyst is near a nerve, it can cause:
- Loss of mobility
- Tingling sensation
Diagnosis of Ganglions
During the physical examination, pressure may be applied to the cyst by your physician to test for discomfort or tenderness. Your doctor may shine a light through the cyst so as to determine if it’s filled with fluid or it’s a solid mass.
To rule out other conditions such as a tumour or arthritis, your physician might recommend imaging tests such as ultrasound, x-ray or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Ultrasounds and MRIs can also locate occult or hidden cysts.
An aspiration test can also help to confirm a ganglion cyst. It involves your physician using a needle and syringe to aspirate or draw out the fluid in the cyst. Fluid from the ganglion cysts is usually thick and translucent (clear).
Treatment of Ganglions
A ganglion cyst is usually harmless and as long as it does not cause any pain or discomfort it may not need treatment. Up to half of ganglion cysts may disappear without any intervention.
Some of the treatments for ganglion include:
- Immobilization: Limiting movement of the affected area by wearing a brace or splint may cause the cyst to shrink.
- Adapting footwear: If the cyst is on the ankle or foot, wearing open or soft padded shoes will limit the irritation or rubbing of the cyst.
- Pain relief: Pain medication can help deal with the pain if the cyst is painful.
- Aspiration: This is removing the fluid from the cyst.
- Surgery: A small incision can be made to remove both the cyst and its talk.
At King’s College Hospital Dubai, we focus on offering an exemplary service, from initial consultation through to final diagnosis and treatment and beyond. Our multidisciplinary team of expert doctors, nurses, physio therapists are here to offer tailored management and treatment of your condition, and to answer any questions that you might have throughout your time with us. Whatever you need us for, we’re only a phone-call away.
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