Ganglion: Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment and Home Remedies

Ganglion or ganglion cysts are lumps (round or oval in shape) that typically grow along with tendons of muscles and joints, mainly wrists and hands, although one may see in ankles and feet too. These are noncancerous growths that are filled with jelly life liquid. Ganglion cysts may vary from small pea size to over an inch in diameter. The lump may cause pain, if it presses a nearby nerve and you may need to treat it. However, most ganglions are painless and need no treatment, except due to cosmetic reason. As I write this post, I am having a ganglion of pea size in my left wrist joint. It is symptomless and I left it as it is without any treatment or worry. There is high possibility that it will go away again (in the same site there was a ganglion few years back and it disappeared on its own).

What are the symptoms of ganglion?

Most commonly ganglions do not cause any symptom and need no treatment. However, depending on its location and size it may have symptoms such as,

  • Pain: most ganglions are painless. However, if a ganglion presses on a nerve it may cause pain, tingling, numbness or muscle weakness.
  • Depending on the location a ganglion may interfere with free joint movement. The size and shape of a ganglion may change over time and fluctuate.
  • Most common site for a ganglion is wrist joint. However one may develop ganglion in other joints (such as ankle joints, and other joints of foot) and any other joints.

What causes a ganglion to develop is not clear. Ganglions are filled with thick jelly like lubricating fluid.

Anyone can develop ganglions. However, ganglions are common among women in their 20s. Ganglions are also common if you have injury in a joint or tendon. People with osteoarthritis due to wear and tear of the condition tend to develop ganglion in hand joints.

Diagnosis of ganglion:

It is not difficult to diagnose ganglion. Inspection and physical examination are sufficient to diagnose ganglion. Your doctor may press it to test if there is any discomfort or pain. Sometimes (rarely) your doctor may ask for X-ray, ultrasound or MRI to check if there is arthritis or any other hidden tumor. To confirm diagnosis, your doctor may perform aspiration (using a needle and syringe your doctor draws the liquid present inside the ganglion) of the content of the cyst, which is thick, clear or translucent.

Treatment of ganglion:

Most ganglions do not need any treatment, as they are usually small in size, painless (symptomless) and do not cause any problem. Watch and wait approach as recommended by many doctors is best for most cases of ganglion. However, some ganglions may cause pain or other symptoms such as interfere with joint movement and in such situation your doctor may recommend any of the following treatment modality,

  • Immobilization of the joint where the ganglion is located. Because movement or activity can increase size of ganglion cyst. For this, your doctor may ask you to use a brace or splint to immobilize the joint. If there is reduction in size, it may relieve pressure and pain subsides.
  • Aspiration is another mode of management of ganglion. For this, a syringe with needle is used to draw the liquid present inside the ganglion. Your doctor may inject enzyme prior to aspiration to make the jelly like content easier to remove with syringe. However, the possibility of recurrence is high and to reduce chance of recurrence, your doctor may inject steroid in the ganglion. The chance of recurrence is high, because the root and the whole of the sac remain after aspiration.
  • Surgery: if immobilization and aspiration do not work (there is recurrence) than surgery can be considered. In surgery the whole sac and its stalk (root that is attached to tendon or joint) is removed and there is less risk of recurrence. However, surgical procedure may rarely cause injury to a nearby nerve, tendon or blood vessel and that need to be taken care of. Cyst may also recur even after surgery (removing the cyst along with its root).

Some home remedies that may be useful:

To relieve pain OTC (over the counter) pain medications may be useful. If you have a ganglion in your ankle and causing discomfort, the way you wear shoes or change of shoes may provide relief.

You can also do an old home remedy for ganglion that is thumping the cyst with a heavy object (in olden days people used to do the thumping with Holy Bible). This is similar to aspiration as the liquid present inside the cyst comes out and there may be relief from symptoms. The risk of recurrence is high with this procedure. There is also additional risk of injuring or damaging a nearby structure such as nerve, blood vessel etc.

Related Posts

Leave a Comment

Loading...