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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.
The surgical removal of a ganglion cyst is called an 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.
Ganglion cysts are classified into four major types:
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:
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.
The factors that may increase a person’s risk of developing ganglion cysts include:
The exact cause of ganglion cysts is unclear. One theory suggests that the cause might be a type of trauma which 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:
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 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.
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