What Is A Ganglion Cyst?

What Is A Ganglion Cyst?

Ganglion Cysts Project From Around Joints Like A Balloon On A Stick

A ganglion cyst is a collection of fluid that grows out of tissues surrounding a joint like tendon sheaths, ligaments, joint lining… It grows a bit like a balloon on a stalk where the fluid inside the balloon is thick and slippery similar to that, which lubricates your joints. They are benign, meaning they are not cancerous and in most cases, are harmless and do not require treatment. Ganglion cysts vary in size, and often grow larger with increased activity of the relevant area conversely with rest the lump generally becomes smaller. Up to a half of all ganglion cysts will disappear on their own without the need for medical treatment. However if the cyst is painful, or interferes with function people may seek treatment. It is always best to consult your GP to make sure the swelling is in fact a ganglion cyst and is also not a symptom of some other type of disease process.

At What Locations In The Body Does A Ganglion Cyst Occur?

The most common location for a ganglion cyst is on the back of the wrist. However ganglion cysts can develop in several of the joints including the underside of the wrist and joints in the hand, including the end joint of a finger, and at the base of a finger. They can also occur on the knees, ankles and feet.

What Is The Cause Of Ganglion Cysts?

The cause of ganglion cysts is not known. One theory is that they are the result of tiny tears in the lining of a tendon or joint. From this lining or sheath around the joint or tendon the ganglion cyst grows like a ball of fluid on a stalk. The small tears in the tendon membrane or joint capsule allow the fluid contents to squeeze out. From which the cyst may project like one large lump or as a collection of a number of smaller ones attached to a single ‘stalk’ deeper down in the tendon or joint cover.
Another theory is that the body responds to overuse, trauma or injury by forming an internal ‘blister’. Adding fuel to this theory is cysts are common in athletes such as gymnasts who are repeatedly applying load to their wrists.

Disclaimer: Sydney Physio Clinic provides this information as an educational service and is not intended to serve as medical advice. Anyone seeking specific advice or assistance on What Is A Ganglion Cyst? should consult his or her physiotherapist, general practitioner or sports medicine specialist.