Why Choose Cedars-Sinai Marina del Rey Hospital for Ganglion Cysts Treatment?
At Cedars-Sinai Marina del Rey Hospital, our highly-skilled, well-trained plastic surgeons can diagnose and provide individualized treatment for patients with ganglion cysts.
Ganglion cysts, also called Bible cysts, are non-cancerous, fluid-filled masses that commonly develop as a result of joint tissue inflammation in the hands and wrists. Ganglion cysts look like balloons and are filled with a thick, clear, jelly-like fluid. These harmless cysts often appear on the upper sides of the wrist joint, on the lower sides of the wrist, or at the base joint of the finger. Ganglion cysts may also appear on the knees, ankle joints, and tops of the feet. Ganglion cysts differ in size; excessive use of the wrist can cause them to grow larger. Most ganglion cysts occur in women and are most common in patients ages 20-40 years old. Generally, a ganglion cyst does not need any treatment, but if it becomes painful, various non-surgical and surgical means of treatment are available.
Surgical Procedures Performed at Cedars-Sinai Marina del Rey Hospital for Ganglion Cysts
The surgical removal of a ganglion cyst is called excision and is recommended if non-surgical treatment methods fail to resolve the symptoms, or if the cyst reappears even after aspiration. During the surgical excision of a ganglion cyst, both the cyst and the involved joint lining or tendon sheath are removed. This is an outpatient procedure and most patients can return home after a brief observation period. In terms of recovery, it can take between two and six weeks for patients to return to normal routine activities.
Drugs and Other Treatments Needed for Ganglion Cysts
Wrist Braces And Splints »
Ganglion cysts are classified into four major types:
Dorsal Wrist Ganglion Cysts »
Mucous Cysts »
Volar Wrist Ganglion Cysts »
Pulley Or "Seed" Ganglion Cysts »
Symptoms of Ganglion Cysts
A ganglion cyst appears as a smooth lump below the skin, ranging in size from a pea to a golf ball. Smaller sized ganglion cysts may not be visible and can remain hidden under the skin. These are called occult ganglion cysts. Most ganglion cysts may not cause any other symptoms, but if a cyst exerts pressure on the nerves traversing the wrist joint, it can cause symptoms that include:
- Muscle weakness
- Tingling sensations
- Difficulty moving the affected joint
Diagnosis of Ganglion Cysts
A careful physical examination and an analysis of the patient’s medical history are often sufficient to diagnose a ganglion cyst. A doctor will also ask about a patient's symptoms and the characteristics of the lump. During a physical examination, the doctor will also apply pressure on the lump to check for any tenderness.
- X-rays: These tests cannot reveal a ganglion cyst, but may be ordered to preclude other conditions, such as bone tumors and arthritis.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan and ultrasound: These imaging tests can reveal soft tissues and may be ordered to diagnose an occult ganglion, or to confirm the diagnosis of a ganglion cyst.
Risk Factors for Ganglion Cysts
The factors that may increase a person’s risk of developing ganglion cysts include:
- Age and gender: Women are more likely to develop ganglion cysts than men. People between the ages of 20 and 40 are more commonly affected by ganglion cysts.
- Repetitive trauma to the tendons and joints of the hands: Patients with joint and tendon injury in their past are more likely to develop ganglion cysts.
- Active participation in sports activities: Different sports that require the excessive use of the hands and wrists, such as gymnastics, tennis, or volleyball, can increase the risk of cyst development.
- Osteoarthritis: If the finger joint closest to the fingernail is affected by wear-and-tear arthritis, there is a greater risk of developing ganglion cysts.
Causes of Ganglion Cysts
The exact cause of ganglion cysts is unclear. One theory suggests that the cause might be a type of trauma that leads to the breakdown of joint tissues, resulting in the formation of small cysts that coalesce into a bigger mass. Another theory suggests that an irritation of the joint capsule or tendon sheath causes the joint tissue to bulge out. Sometimes, arthritis in the end joint of a finger may also lead to the development of a type of ganglion cyst known as a mucous cyst.
The alternative medicine treatment methods for ganglion cysts include:
- Moxibustion: The moxibustion technique is used by acupuncturists, and it involves the application of burning mugwort on the places where fine acupuncture needles have been previously inserted. Mugwort is a type of herb that is used in Chinese medicine. A moxa stick is ignited and held above the acupuncture point to allow heat to penetrate the area. Additionally, a small portion of the moxa stick can be applied to the end of the acupuncture needles. This will ensure deeper penetration of the heat. Moxibustion is thought to improve blood circulation.
- Lymphatic drainage massage: This method contributes to the removal of lymphatic fluid from the affected area. Lymphatic drainage massage also supports our body’s defense mechanism, which will try to rid itself of the ganglion cyst by reducing its size naturally.
- Aromatherapy: The gentle massaging of the ganglion cyst with a teaspoon of oil and a blend of herbs, such as ginger, basil, patchouli, and juniper, can help in the gradual dissemination of the cyst. This massage treatment should be performed several times a day.
As the exact cause of ganglion cysts is unknown, they are often difficult to prevent. It is recommended that athletes take sufficient breaks between sports activities in order to avoid overusing their hands. It's also suggested that people avoid performing activities that are known to make a hand or joint pain worse.
Are you experiencing symptoms of a ganglion cyst? To learn more about treatment methods, get in touch with our specially-trained, skilled plastic surgeons at Cedars-Sinai Marina del Rey Hospital.