Ganglions are round or oval non-cancerous lumps that form along the joints or tendons. Although ganglions are most common in the hands and wrists, they can also develop in the ankles and feet. The lumps are filled with a fluid that resembles jelly, and they can range from a pea size to an inch in diameter.
The cause of ganglions is unknown. However, certain things increase your risk of developing them, such as joint and tendon injuries, osteoarthritis, and being a women between the ages of 20 and 30 years.
What are the symptoms of ganglions?
Many patients can feel ganglions below the surface of the skin. However, ganglions do not cause any symptoms in many cases. If the ganglion is pressing on a nearby nerve, there may be pain involved. In some cases, ganglions can even affect movement. The cyst can continue to grow larger if it is attached to a joint that you use repetitively.
How are ganglions diagnosed?
It is best to always see your doctor if you notice a lump of any kind, just to rule out more serious causes. Your doctor might press on the lump to check for tenderness, or shine a light through it to see if it is solid or filled with fluid. Imaging tests, like MRIs, may be used to rule out things like tumors.
How are ganglions treated?
A ganglion cyst may go away on its own. This is more likely to happen if you have no symptoms. You can rest the affected area as much as possible and try things like changing shoes and taking pain relievers to stay comfortable.
It is very important not to try and pop the ganglion cyst yourself, because that can lead to an infection. Your doctor may aspirate the cyst, which means that it is drained with a needle. In more serious cases, the cyst can be removed surgically. Surgery removes the cyst and the stalk that attaches it to the joint or tendon. Unfortunately, ganglion cysts can recur, even if you have the cyst surgically removed.