What is a Ganglion Cyst?
A ganglion cyst is a sac that is filled with a jelly-like fluid. It originates from a tendon sheath or a joint capsule. The term “ganglion” describes the knot-like mass or lump that forms underneath the skin. This type of cyst is one of the most common benign soft-tissue masses people experience.
While typically harmless, ganglion cysts can cause discomfort. Occasionally, they can be painful if they press on a nearby nerve. They can also be uncomfortable if the location of the cyst interferes with the movement of a joint. They usually form around the wrist, but can also develop on the ankle and foot. In fact, about 11% of ganglion cysts appear on the foot or ankle. They most often occur on the top of the foot, but they can form anywhere.
The size of ganglion cysts usually ranges from the size of a pea to the size of a golf ball. Larger cysts can be about an inch in diameter. Depending on the size of the cyst, it could feel very firm or spongy to the touch.
Ganglion cysts affect people between 20-40 years old the most (about 70%). In addition, women are three times more likely to develop them than men.
What Causes Ganglion Cysts
It is unclear what exactly causes ganglion cysts, but doctors have noticed that they tend to form in areas of trauma. It could possibly be a single event or repeated injuries to the same spot.
One theory suggests that trauma causes the tissue in the joint to break down, forming small cysts. Over time, these small cysts may join to become a larger mass. Another theory suggests that a flaw in the joint capsule or the tendon sheath allows the tissue to bulge out.
When to See a Doctor
These cysts sometimes disappear on their own. Still, this process can take years and there is a high incidence of recurrence. About 15-20% of ganglion cysts recur, with ones that disappear on their own the most likely to come back.
If your cyst is not causing pain or discomfort, you may still want a doctor to monitor it for any changes. If you experience discomfort, mobility issues, or pain due to a ganglion cyst in Beverly, make an appointment for evaluation and treatment.