What Is A Ganglion Cyst?
A tendon is a tough band of connective tissue that joins muscle to bone. Tendons and joints have a covering of membrane that produces a lubricating fluid to assist their function. A ganglion cyst is a benign (non-cancerous) ball of fluid that grows on the membrane or sheath that covers these tendons and joints. The backs of the hands and wrists are most commonly affected, but ganglion cysts can sometimes grow on the feet, knees and ankles. A ganglion cyst is the most common lump on the hand, and tends to target women between the ages of 20 and 40 years of age, for reasons unknown.
As tendons anchor muscle to bone, a ganglion cyst on a tendon may cause muscle weakness. Depending on the individual, there may be just one large lump or a collection of many smaller ones attached to a single ‘stalk’ deeper in the tissue. Around one third to one half of ganglion cysts disappear on their own without the need for medical treatment. However, it is best to consult your doctor to make sure the swelling is not a symptom of some other type of illness.
Symptoms of ganglion cysts
- Noticeable swelling or lump.
- The lump is able to change its size, including going away completely only to return.
- The lump is usually soft and immobile.
- In some cases, the lump is painful and aching, particularly those at the base of fingers.
- The ache and pain is made worse by moving any nearby joints.
- The affected tendon may cause a sensation of muscular weakness.
- The back of the hands and wrists are most commonly affected.
- Other sites include the back of the knee (Bakers cyst), ankle, foot, palm and fingers.
Causes of ganglion cysts
Some of the theories include:
- The body responds to injury, trauma or overuse by forming an internal ‘blister’.
- Small tears in the tendon membrane or joint capsule allow the contents to squeeze out.
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