What is a ganglion cyst and when is ganglion cyst removal necessary?
A ganglion cyst is a lump that can grow on the hand or back of the wrist. This lump is noncancerous and very often does not cause symptoms. However, for some people it can become a source of pain or interfere with normal activities, in which case, treatment options such as ganglion cyst removal may become necessary. Other people also choose ganglion cyst removal for cosmetic reasons depending on the size and location of the growth.
Ganglion cysts can range in size from less than a centimeter to more than two-and-a-half centimeters in length. The underlying cause is unknown, but strenuous wrist activity may be a contributor to ganglion cyst growth.
To learn more about the development of ganglion cysts and the potential treatment options available, please read this easy-to-understand guide. If you have any questions or would like to learn more about available treatment options, don’t hesitate to reach out to the caring team at USA Spine Care.
How does ganglion cyst growth occur?
The causes that lead to ganglion cyst growth are still not fully understood by medical researchers, but there are a number of potential risk factors that have been identified. Ganglion cysts tend to be more common in people aged 15 to 40 and are slightly more prevalent in men.
Since ganglion cyst growth is associated with strenuous activities such as gymnastics, there is some belief that excessive strain on the wrist may play a role causing this condition. Another contributor may be arthritis, as ganglion cysts frequently develop around the finger joints of arthritic patients.
What are the commonly reported symptoms of a ganglion cyst?
Ganglion cysts very often do not cause symptoms and they can be both visible or exist beneath the surface of the skin. These types of ganglion cysts are known as occult ganglions.
When ganglion cysts do cause symptoms, it is typically because the growth is near nervous tissue and is putting pressure on the nerve. This can result in the following neuropathic symptoms:
- Localized and shooting pain
- Tingling, or a pins and needles sensation
- Muscle weakness
- Difficulty moving fingers or the wrist
Patients who develop a cyst may want to have it examined by a doctor even if there are no symptoms in order to rule out a different condition or to assess the progress of the condition.
How do doctors diagnose ganglion cysts?
A significant part of the diagnostic process for a ganglion cyst consists of discussing medical history, asking how long ago the cyst developed and determining whether it is causing pain or interfering with daily activities. Your physician may ask questions about your profession and lifestyle to determine if there are any sports or movements that could potentially be contributing to growth of the ganglion cyst.
The doctor may carefully examine the cyst and put pressure on it to test for hardness. Another common evaluation is to shine a small light on it to check for translucence. Diagnostic imagery, including X-ray may be needed to rule out another condition or identify an occult ganglion beneath the skin.
Are there conservative treatments for a ganglion cyst?
If the growth is determined to be a ganglion cyst and it is not causing pain or other symptoms, your doctor may recommend an initial period of observation. In some cases, ganglion cysts can disappear on their own with any need for treatment.
Periods of rest and activity modification can also help to reduce stress on the wrist and hand, particularly if the cyst is believed to be related to strenuous activity.
For patients with ganglion cysts that are causing discomfort, doctors may recommend draining the cyst. This process is called aspiration. However, aspiration is very often temporary as it does not eliminate the root of the growth. In these cases, a surgical procedure called ganglion cyst removal may be recommended.
When should patients consider ganglion cyst removal?
Patients should consider ganglion cyst removal if symptoms are interfering with quality of life, normal daily activities, if the cyst grows back after draining, or if there are concerns over the appearance of the cyst.
In a typical ganglion cyst removal procedure, the surgeon will access the hand or wrist and remove the cyst at the of the ganglion. This may involve the surgeon removing a small portion of soft tissue that the cyst is attached to in order to ensure it does not grow back. Ganglion cyst removal can be performed on an outpatient basis with the use of minimally invasive techniques. Recovery varies, but can take anywhere from two to six weeks in many cases.
Reach out to USA Spine Care today
To learn more about conservative and surgical treatments for ganglion cyst, including ganglion cyst removal, contact USA Spine Care. Our experienced and compassionate staff has decades of experience helping patients overcome pain and mobility issues to regain a healthy and active lifestyle.
Call toll free 1- 866-249-1627