The good news is ganglion cysts are noncancerous. These benign soft tissue masses do not spread. They are quite often painless, but if they press on a nerve they can cause pain, numbness, or tingling. They are most commonly found on the joints or tendons of the hands, fingers, or wrists. Sometimes, though, they are found on the feet or ankles, and others joints in the body.
The word ganglion, refers to a knot. In many cases, a ganglion cyst is small, similar to pea-sized or less than an inch in diameter. Sometimes, they can become larger, and be upwards to one inch in diameter. They are oval or round, and filled with a jelly-like fluid consistency.
While the exact cause of these types of cysts are unknown, research suggests that trauma may play a role in their development. A ganglion cyst may be diagnosed by a hand doctor upon examination, MRI, ultrasound, an X-ray, or extraction of fluid. Translucent, thick, and gel-like fluid is consistent with a ganglion cyst.
Treatment of Ganglion Cysts
Initially, and depending on the size and symptoms of your ganglion cyst, your hand specialist may recommend a “watch and wait” approach, as these types of cysts often go away on their own.
If your cyst is causing you pain, muscle weakness, numbness, or tingling, your hand specialist may suggest draining the cyst with a needle. This is known as aspiration. A ganglion cyst on the finger may reoccur, even after it is drained. Therefore, hand surgery removal is considered the standard treatment of ganglion cysts in the fingers.
If a ganglion cysts has reoccurred or is particularly troublesome, it can be removed in the office of the hand surgeon under local anesthetic.
Certain home remedies to treat a ganglion cysts are highly advised against. Thumbing the cyst with a heavy object can damage the surrounding tissue leading to permanent damage. Likewise, “popping” the cyst on your own can lead to infection.