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Diagnosing and Treating a Ganglion Cyst

by Princeton Orthopaedic Associates


Diagnosing and Treating a Ganglion Cyst

by Princeton Orthopaedic Associates

A ganglion cyst is a fluid-filled sac that develops outside of a joint or along a tendon. These cysts are usually benign, but can occasionally become painful. In this blog post, we will discuss how ganglion cysts are diagnosed and treated. If you have any questions or concerns about your own health, be sure to get in touch with us here at Princeton Orthopaedics so that we can schedule an appointment.

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What is a ganglion cyst and what causes it to form?

A ganglion cyst is a fluid-filled bump or mass that can occur in joints and on tendons of the arms, wrists, hands, feet, and legs. Though ganglion cysts are typically not painful, their pressure on nerves may cause discomfort. Ganglion cysts form when lubricating joint fluid accumulates around a joint capsule or tendon sheath. The actual cause of ganglion cysts is unknown but can be attributed to repeated stress on the area, age-related degeneration of ligaments and tendons, or weak areas in connective tissue. They are most common among women between the ages of 20 to 40 as well as those participating in sports activities that involve sudden stops and motions like racket sports or gymnastics.

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How can you diagnose a ganglion cyst?

A ganglion cyst is a common benign (non-cancerous) bump that appears near joints or tendons. Diagnosing a ganglion cyst typically begins with a physical examination from a doctor. During the exam, your doctor will check the area for swelling and tenderness. They may also ask some questions about your symptoms. Once the ganglion cyst is identified, additional testing may be performed to rule out other conditions like infections, arthritis or a tumor. An X-ray may be ordered to assess the joint and surrounding tissue for changes that could lead to the ganglion cyst development. Additionally, ultrasound imaging can be used to help diagnose ganglion cysts more accurately and determine their size and location. Knowing these details can help your doctor develop an appropriate treatment plan to reduce discomfort and minimize any problems associated with ganglions cysts in the future.

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What are the treatment options for a ganglion cyst?

Treatment options for a ganglion cyst vary depending on the size and location of the cyst. In some cases, no treatment may be necessary if the cyst is small and causes no pain or discomfort. A physician may choose to watch a small cyst over time to see if any changes occur. For larger or more painful cysts, there are both non-surgical and surgical treatments that can be employed. Non-surgical treatment includes draining the fluid from the cyst with a needle and medications to reduce inflammation. The use of splints also can offer relief if the cyst is located in an area easily immobilized by splints. Surgical removal in more serious cases may also be an option that resolves the issue, but should only be done as a last resort given its invasive nature.

Surgery vs. nonsurgical options

When considering treatment options for ganglion cysts, patients often have to weigh the pros and cons of surgery versus nonsurgical options. Surgery is more invasive but generally offers a better chance of completely eliminating the ganglion cyst than nonsurgical options. Nonsurgical treatments may be better suited for those who want a faster recovery time or who are unable to undergo surgery due to age or health concerns. However, such treatments usually require multiple sessions over an extended period of time and sometimes provide only temporary relief from pain or discomfort associated with ganglion cysts. Ultimately, defining which treatment option is best is a difficult decision that must be made in consultation with medical professionals who have taken into account each patient's unique needs.

Recovery from surgery/nonsurgical treatments

Surgery and nonsurgical treatments can be necessary to help with ganglion cysts and other medical issues. Surgery is generally recommended when the ganglion is causing discomfort, and it can help reduce recurrence by removing pressure on the tendons or nerves. Nonsurgical treatment involves draining fluid with a needle, which can provide relief for some ganglions. Recovery times vary depending on the patient and their individual situation, but it typically involves several days of activity restriction followed gradually by physical therapy to help restore strength and movement in affected areas. It's important for patients to understand that care following surgery or a nonsurgical treatment plan is vital for long-term successful recovery!

Prevention of future ganglion cysts

The development of ganglion cysts can cause extreme distress and frustration for sufferers, as well as a large amount of pain and discomfort. One way to reduce the risk of ganglion cyst formation is to practice good joint health. Participating in low-impact activities such as cycling, stretching and swimming can help ensure that the joints remain lubricated and flexible; this will promote mobility, increase strength in surrounding muscles and help prevent joint injury, reducing your risk of ganglion cysts. Additionally, regularly monitoring body movement patterns may also aid in preventing ganglion cyst formation as it allows for early identification and correction of any asymmetries or movement habits that could lead to ganglia development. Educating yourself on proper ergonomics when performing repetitive activities is also essential for ganglion cyst prevention. Last but not least, avoiding excessively tight or restrictive footwear can prevent pressure on your joints which could result in ganglia formation. By taking proactive measures today to safeguard the condition of our joints we can reduce our chances of developing a ganglion cyst tomorrow.

A ganglion cyst is a growth that usually appears on the back of the wrist, hand, or fingers. It may also occur on the foot or ankle. Ganglion cysts are not cancerous and tend to fluctuate in size. They might get larger when you use your joints a lot or during times of stress. If you think you have a ganglion cyst it’s best to seek medical attention so we can diagnose and treat it accordingly. There are both surgical and non-surgical options for treatment depending on factors such as size, location, symptoms, and patient preference. Recovery from surgery typically takes one to two weeks but for nonsurgical treatments like aspiration/injection with corticosteroids, recovery time is shorter since there is no wound to heal. Prevention measures include avoiding activities that put unnecessary stress on joints as well as wearing protective gear when participating in high-impact activities.

If you are suffering from pain in your wrists or forearms and have bumps associated with them, you'll want to get a diagnosis from a doctor. Our specialists at Princeton Orthopaedic Associates are some of the best physicians around. You're in good hands with us and we'd love the opportunity to help you live pain-free as you do the things you love to do. Contact us today and schedule an appointment.

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