When a mass or lump develops anywhere on your body, it’s always cause for concern. The good news is that if the growth is a ganglion cyst, the mass isn’t cancerous and there are several ways to go about treating the problem.
At No Mercy Sports Medicine, Dr. Moisés Irizarry-Román, and our team help patients resolve any number of musculoskeletal issues, especially those that affect your joints. While not widely recognized, ganglion cysts certainly qualify as a joint issue as they form mainly in the small joints in your wrists and hands.
Here’s a look at ganglion cysts and how we can go about treating them.
Ganglion cysts 101
The first thing to know about ganglion cysts is that these growths are largely benign. These fluid-filled sacs mostly develop in the small joints in your wrists and hands, but they can also occur in your feet and ankles.
Ganglion cysts range in size from a pea to about the size of a quarter. They, quite literally, stem from the soft tissues that surround your joint. The cyst starts in your soft tissue and develops a stalk, which leads to the surface of your skin where a growth forms.
Ganglion cysts typically develop in people between the ages of 15 and 40 and occur more often in women. While most ganglion cysts are visible just beneath the surface of your skin, some cysts — occult ganglions — don’t lead to any outward signs.
The fluid inside the cyst is much like the lubricating fluid found inside your joints, and it doesn’t pose any threat. Depending upon the size and location of your ganglion cyst, however, it can press up against a nerve.
This can lead to symptoms like tingling, pain, and numbness in your hands or feet. Because these cysts develop in highly visible areas, they can also pose a cosmetic concern.
Treating ganglion cysts
After a thorough evaluation of your ganglion cyst, we come up with a treatment plan to best meet your goals. If your cyst doesn’t pose any problems with comfort and you’re not worried about aesthetic issues, we prefer to start out conservatively, which usually means immobilizing your joint.
We’ve found that the more active your joint is, the larger the cyst can grow, which is why limiting movement can help the cyst shrink back down.
If your ganglion cyst doesn’t respond to conservative measures, we can try aspirating the cyst to draw out the fluid. While this simple procedure provides immediate results, the fluid can return. Still, between immobilization and aspiration, we’ve been able to effectively manage problematic ganglion cysts in many of our patients.
If your ganglion cyst returns and continues to create problems, we can get more aggressive and perform an outpatient surgical procedure in which we remove both the cyst and its root in the soft tissues around your joint.
To determine which treatment is best for your ganglion cyst, please contact one of our two locations — in Fort Lauderdale or Miami, Florida — to set up a consultation.