Ganglion Cysts: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatment

What is a Ganglion Cyst? 

Ganglion cysts are noncancerous lumps that form in your body, often around joints that feel like a jelly lump. They are typically oval or round. They are usually painless, unless they press on a nerve. 

Types of Ganglion Cyst

Dorsal wrist ganglion cyst 

These are ganglion cysts of wrist joint. They usually last for two years, and go away after that. It is commonly found in adults and teenagers.

Palmar wrist ganglion cyst

These are cysts that occur near the palm of the wrist and are common among young adults and people with arthritis. They often are close to the nerves, and doctors usually do not operate on them as they do not cause any major inconvenience to movement.

Dorsal digital ganglion cyst

These are ganglion cysts of finger found on the end of the joints of a finger, often close to the finger nail. They are found in older adults and are often associated with early osteoarthritis.

Flexor tendon sheath ganglion cyst

These are ganglion cysts of hand often found in young adults, at the sheath of the finger. They are small lumps that can feel dry. It may hinder movement.

Ganglion Cyst Symptoms

While most ganglion cysts are non cancerous and disappear within a year or two, it is always advisable to keep an eye out for little jelly-like lumps in and around the joints of the body.

They often occur around joints or tendons of the wrist and hand. They can even occur around your ankle and feet.

Cysts can vary in size, sometimes too small to notice, or can go up to a couple of inches. They are also impacted by the frequency of movement of the joints, which can cause variation in size. They are usually painless, but can hurt if the cysts press against nerves around the joint.

Ganglion Cyst Risks

Some of the risk factors are:

Age is a crucial factor, as it usually affects people in the age bracket of 20 - 40 years. Women are more prone to cysts formation, as they engage in more activities.

People at risk for osteoarthritis are more likely to develop ganglion cysts as there is more wear and tear of joints

Joint or tendon injuries are also some of the factors that can cause ganglion cysts.

Ganglion Cyst Diagnosis

A doctor may apply some pressure on the cyst to understand if it causes any pain or major discomfort. They may even run a few tests such as X rays and ultrasound to rule out tumors and identify any hidden cysts.

An aspiration procedure might be done by the doctor, to remove the fluid from the cyst.

Physiotherapy Treatment for Ganglion Cyst

The therapy should be aimed at improving the movement of the hand or wrist or joint. This can be achieved with simple exercises that help in movement, such as flexing the fingers and joints. Here are a few ganglion cyst treatment.

PNF (proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation) exercises

This is where the finger is kept at a flexion, and after holding the position for a while, the patient relaxes the finger.

Tendon gliding exercises

This is when the individual flexes their wrist to the finger, and back, in order to stretch the wrist and fingers, in turn the tendons.

Blocking exercises

Lay the affected hand on the table and with your other hand, hold the joint of your finger, bend it, while holding the other joints straight. Repeat on all fingers.

Things to Remember for Ganglion Cyst

It is important to get a diagnosis done by a trained medical professional, as it can help ascertain if it's a tumor or not. It is important to not stress the joints too much, as it can result in cyst formation. Simple exercises to improve flexibility and movement, can help cope with a ganglion cyst.