Ganglion Cyst

What is a Ganglion Cyst?

A ganglion cyst is a fluid filled sac that originates from a tendon sheath or joint capsule. The word ganglion means "knot" and is used to describe the knot like lump that forms beneath the skin. "Bible cyst" used to be a common term for a ganglion cyst, because it used to be common practice to smash the cyst open with the largest book available, usually a bible. This is not recommended as it is both painful, can cause further injury, and is likely to lead to infection.  


The cause of ganglion cysts remains unknown, but it is suspected that they arise from trauma, either a single major trauma or repeated microtrauma. 


Symptoms of a ganglion cyst are typically one or more of the following: 

  • A noticeable lump - often the only symptom.

  • Tingling / burning - common if the cyst is touching a nerve.

  • Dull pain / ache - this may indicate the cyst is pressing against a tendon or joint.

  • Difficulty wearing shoes - this is due to irritation between the cyst and the shoe.


Various treatments of a ganglion cyst include:

  • Monitoring - If the cyst causes no pain and does not interfere with walking, the surgeon may decide it is best to carefully watch the cyst over a period of time.

  • Shoe - Wearing shoes that do not rub the lump or cause irritation. Placing a pad inside the shoe may help reduce pressure against the cyst.

  • Aspiration / Injection - This involves draining the fluid and then injecting a steroid medication. More than one session may be needed. This approach is successful in some cases, but in many others, the cyst can return.

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