At Long Island Spine Rehabilitation Medicine, our physiatrists treat patients who have all other types of musculoskeletal injuries, abnormalities, and disease conditions, including ganglion cysts. You will find that we offer a strong combination of medical skill, efficiency, and personal concern. Our holistic practice is laser-focused on making you feel better and move more easily without surgery. Contact us soon so we can address your concerns.

What Are Ganglion Cysts?

Ganglion cysts are round or oval lumps that most commonly appear along the wrists, hands, or fingers, but can also develop on the feet or ankles. Typically small (pea-sized), they may enlarge, occasionally to the size of a quarter. Ganglion cysts are filled with gelatinous fluid. Though sometimes painful, they are not damaging to your general health and will not become cancerous. About half the time, ganglion cysts disappear without intervention.

Nonetheless, it is never wise to ignore unidentified bumps on the body. It is always a good idea to have a careful diagnosis to make certain the bump you have is not malignant and does not require treatment. Many ganglion cysts cause discomfort or pain that may interfere with dexterity. For these, we offer treatment as well as diagnosis.

How Ganglion Cysts Form

It is not known precisely why ganglion cysts develop, but they grow out of a joint or the lining of a tendon. Like minuscule balloons filled with water, ganglion cysts are filled with a thick fluid that leaks out of a joint or tendon. As they fill, they swell beneath the skin. The leaks that result in ganglion cysts are believed to occur due to:

  • Injury or trauma to the foot or ankle
  • Repetitive stress in the area
  • Irritation of nearby tendons or joints
  • Underlying progression of arthritis.

Why Ganglion Cysts Are Sometimes Removed

If asymptomatic, ganglion cysts, once diagnosed, can sometimes be left alone, though they should be monitored to see whether they enlarge or begin to be troublesome. Reasons to treat them include: [1] they are causing pain, tingling, numbness, or muscle weakness by pressing on a nerve [2] they are affecting the mobility of the adjacent joint, or [3] they are aesthetically displeasing and [4] they may keep growing and become problematic. 

If your ganglion cyst is interfering with your life, or you fear it will, it can be drained of fluid or surgically removed. It pays to remember, however, that even if such cysts are surgically removed, there is a chance that they will grow back and surgery carries its own risks.

Specific Locations of Ganglion Cysts

Ganglion cysts are most often found:

  • At the back or front of the wrist
  • At the base of the finger
  • On the top joint of the finger 
  • On the top or bottom of the foot
  • On the ankle

Though ganglion cysts may appear on the knees or at other joints, the majority of ganglion cysts (approximately 80 percent) are found on the wrist.

Symptoms of Ganglion Cysts

The symptoms of ganglion cysts may be similar to the symptoms of more concerning lumps so having one of our doctors diagnose an unfamiliar bump is important. These symptoms include:

  • Noticeable lump 
  • Ache or pain near the lump, indicating the cyst may be impacting a ligament or tendon
  • Tingling or burning sensation, indicating the cyst is pushing on a nerve
  • Wearing shoes becomes uncomfortable

If you are suffering any of these symptoms, make an appointment with one of our knowledgeable doctors for a diagnosis and any necessary treatment.

Risk factors for Ganglion Cysts Include:

  • Age and gender — these cysts most commonly develop in women between the ages of 20 and 40. 
  • Osteoarthritis — these cysts are frequently found in patients with arthritis in their finger joints, especially in the joints nearest to the fingernails
  • Joint or tendon injury — ganglion cysts are more likely to occur in patients whose tendons in the named regions have been injured 

Diagnosis and Treatment of a Ganglion Cyst

During the physical exam, our doctor will press on the lump to see whether it is still painful and may attempt to shine a light through it to determine if it is solid or filled with fluid. A more definitive test, such as an X-ray, MRI, or ultrasound, will be administered to rule out other possible causes, e.g. arthritis or a tumor. 

Our doctors often combine diagnosis and treatment by withdrawing fluid from a ganglion cyst, a procedure known as aspiration, in order to analyze the composition of the fluid. At the same time, we inject a corticosteroid into the cyst to reduce inflammation. This procedure is often successful in making the cyst diminish and disappear. It is most successful if performed on several (typically 3) separate occasions. 

Because aspiration doesn’t remove the root of the cyst, surgery may be considered if problems persist, but surgery has its own risks and there is always a possibility that the cyst will reoccur.

Since Long Island Spine Rehabilitation Medicine is a holistic, nonsurgical practice, we make use of complementary, as well as traditional, treatment methods, so we have a broad range of available therapies available, including:

The last three treatments on this list help reduce inflammation and pain to speed healing.

Contact Our Experienced Doctors for Diagnosis and Treatment of Ganglion Cysts

If you are troubled by a lump that may be a ganglion cyst, call us or visit our website to make an appointment in one of our conveniently located Long Island offices. We are committed to providing you with effective, personalized treatment. 

We serve patients with ganglion cysts and other musculoskeletal problems at 5 locations throughout Long Island – Great Neck, East Meadow, Huntington, Lindenhurst, and Lawrence.