Ganglion Cyst


What is it?

Ganglion cysts are non-cancerous, fluid-filled lumps that can develop along tendons or joints in your foot/ankle/wrist/hand; they can be pea-sized to a golf ball.

How does it get injured?

The exact cause is unknown, they may arise from trauma – whether a single event or repetitive microtrauma. Ganglion cysts most commonly occur in women between the ages of 20 and 40. Joints and tendons that have been injured in the past are more likely to develop cysts. Occasionally osteoarthritis sufferers have a greater risk of finger cysts in the same area.

What does it feel like?

Up to 35% of cysts are painless, unless it is pressing on a nearby nerve or limiting joint movement which can cause discomfort, tingling, numbness or muscle weakness. To touch, it can be spongy or firm, depending on size.

How are they diagnosed?

We can use our knowledge and physical assessment skills to diagnose a ganglion cyst, an ultrasound scan can be used to confirm smaller cysts, but an X-Ray may be required to rule out other trauma to the joint.

What can Back in Action do to help?

Management usually consists of modification or rest from aggravating activities. Shoe modification may also be helpful to limit irritation on the cyst but a pad in your shoe may also help reduce pressure against it. Treatment within the clinic may include range of movement exercises, joint strengthening, tendon gliding and functional strengthening. If Physiotherapy treatment doesn’t ease symptoms, we can refer you for an ultrasound with an injection to drain the cyst, but, in most cases (38%-58%) the cysts go away on their own. Surgical excision is rarely required.