A ganglion cyst is a non-cancerous lump most commonly found around the wrist and hand. This cyst is a fluid-filled sac that originates from and usually communicates with a joint or the covering of a tendon. The most common place for a ganglion is on the back of the wrist, but the condition can also occur on the hand, foot, ankle or knee. In some cases, the ganglions can become smaller or bigger as time goes on and are usually painless. Often the smaller ganglions tend to be more symptomatic. Small ganglions on the back of the wrist may cause pain when bending the wrist fully backwards, for example, when doing push-ups.
Ganglion cysts may occur due to trauma, an injury, or overuse, but often the cause is unknown. These cysts are most common in women and people who repeatedly stress or overuse their wrists, like gymnasts. People who have ganglion cysts can experience symptoms, including a visible lump that may cause discomfort and pain. If the cyst occurs on the foot or ankle, it could cause discomfort, especially when walking or wearing shoes. When it occurs near a nerve, a ganglion cyst can cause symptoms such as loss of mobility, a tingling sensation, numbness and pain.
Treatment may not be necessary as ganglions are harmless and can go away by themselves. Certain ganglions may disappear after aspirating the contents with a needle and syringe, although the recurrence rate is fairly high. Persistent ganglions and painful ganglions may be removed surgically if required. Surgery may also be required if other treatments such as aspiration and immobilisation have not worked. If you have a lump around the wrist and hand and are in doubt about the diagnosis or the lump is painful and limiting your mobility, then it is best that you have it checked out by your doctor.