A ganglion cyst is a benign (noncancerous) lump that develops alongside a tendon or joint. Although ganglion cysts most commonly affect the hands and wrists, and often the ankles and feet, they can occur in any tendon or joint within the body.

Ganglion Cyst Causes & Risk Factors

Researchers are still working to determine precisely what causes ganglion cysts to develop, but studies suggest that they occur when fluid accumulates due to an injury or overuse. Having one or more of the following risk factors can increase the chances of experiencing a ganglion cyst:

  • Being between the ages of 15 and 40
  • Being a woman
  • Engaging in an activity that repeatedly places stress on the joints
  • Having previously injured the affected tendon or joint
  • Having certain chronic conditions (for example, arthritis)

Keep in mind that having one of these risk factors—or even multiple risk factors—does not guarantee that someone will develop a ganglion cyst. Many people have numerous risk factors present and never experience the condition, while others develop these lumps without having any known risk factors.

Ganglion Cyst Symptoms

As was noted above, ganglion cysts are noncancerous lumps that form along the tendons and joints, most often in the hands and wrists. These lumps are filled with a thick, jellylike fluid and usually take on a rounded shape. Some are soft to the touch, while others are firm. Although some ganglion cysts are small enough that they can’t be seen or felt, others grow to be approximately the size of a golf ball. These lumps can also fluctuate in size, often becoming enlarged when the affected tendon or joint is used in a repetitive motion.

In many cases, ganglion cysts don’t produce any noticeable symptoms. However, if one of these lumps begins pressing on an adjacent nerve, it may cause:

  • Pain
  • Tingling
  • Numbness
  • Muscle weakness

Depending on where the ganglion cyst is located, it may also make it difficult to move the affected joint.

Ganglion Cyst Treatment

Many ganglion cysts resolve on their own. And even when a cyst is still present, it likely will not require treatment if it’s not producing any noticeable symptoms. However, when ganglion cyst treatment is required, it may involve:

  • Taking pain medication
  • Wearing a brace or splint to immobilize the affected area and help the ganglion cyst shrink
  • Having a trained medical provider drain fluid from the ganglion cyst using a syringe (a procedure referred to as “aspiration”)
  • Undergoing surgery to remove the ganglion cyst

If you’ve been researching how to treat ganglion cysts, you may have read about smashing the cyst with a heavy object, such as a book. It’s important that you don’t attempt this, since doing so could cause further injury.

A Local Provider Offering Ganglion Cyst Treatment

If you’re in the Durham, NC, area and you suspect that you might have a ganglion cyst, you can rely on North Carolina Orthopaedic Clinic to treat it. Founded in 2003, we proudly treat a wide range of orthopedic conditions affecting the hands and wrists and all other areas of the body. Contact us today to schedule a consultation—we’re open on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and we have same- and next-day appointments available.