What is a ganglion? what is a ganglion cyst?

What is a ganglion? what is a ganglion cyst?

Ganglion cysts are small, benign, fluid-filled sacs. They are found attached to joints, most commonly on the wrist, and present themselves as small lumps under the skin.

Despite being fairly prevalent, ganglion cysts still hold more than their fair share of mystery and confusion.

What is a ganglion cyst?

Ganglion cysts, also known as Bible cysts, Bible bumps, Gideon's disease and synovial cysts, are non-cancerous lumps that tend to appear near the joints or tendons of the wrist and hand.

More rarely, they occur in the ankle region and, even more rarely still, the knee area.

Hippocrates is often credited as being the first to write about ganglion cysts. He describes them as:

...flabby ganglionic tumors, containing only mucoid flesh."

Maybe surprisingly, given the above quote's antiquity, scientific knowledge of ganglion cysts has not increased much since then. 1

The cyst's overall shape is similar to a water balloon on a stalk.2 The cyst's main body is round or oval and filled with fluid. The general size range is from a pea to a golf ball.3

Although posing no significant medical threat, the cyst's position can sometimes be troubling. In certain alignments, the cyst can push on a nerve, causing pain or making some movements difficult.

Sometimes, the region around the cyst can feel numb and grip strength can be reduced in the affected hand.

Ganglion cyst symptoms and diagnosis

Ganglion cysts are most commonly located at the back of the wrist joint.

Ganglion cysts can be diagnosed relatively easily:

  • Location: always near a joint, most commonly the back of the wrist
  • Shape and size: roughly circular and less than 2.5cm in diameter
  • Pain: not typically painful to the touch.

A doctor will usually shine a light through the cyst to see if its contents are transparent or opaque. The fluid within a ganglion cyst will be clear and thick.

Alternative methods of imaging are sometimes used if there is any doubt in the diagnosis, such as X-ray, ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). These tests will rule out other more serious outcomes such as cancer or arthritis.

Causes of ganglion cysts

The causes of ganglion cysts are still not known. The cysts appear to grow from joints like a balloon on a stalk and tend to develop in areas where a joint or tendon naturally bulge out of place.

There are, however, three main categories of risk factor:

  • Age and sex: ganglion cysts can affect anyone at any time, but they are most commonly found to occur in females aged 20-30
  • Joint or tendon injury: areas injured in the past are more likely to develop ganglion cysts
  • Overuse: people who vigorously use certain joints are more likely to develop ganglion cysts. Female gymnasts, for instance, are particularly prone4
  • Osteoarthritis: people with wear-and-tear arthritis in the joints nearest to the fingernail are more likely than others to develop this type of cyst.

On the next page, we look at the formation of ganglion cysts and the available treatment options for the condition.

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What is a Ganglion Cyst? A Tennessee Podiatrist Explains (Video Medical And Professional 2020).

Section Issues On Medicine: Medical practice