Development of civilization has helped people function but also led to emergence of new diseases. The activity profile has changed – and therefore – body parts which are vastly engaged on a daily basis. Everyday work at the computer, multiple tapping on the keyboard and cash register, or doing sports (such as tennis) may lead to stress, joint inflammation and overproduction of liquid. These processes may generate a nodule, also referred to as ganglion or ganglion cyst.

Ganglion – causes of emergence

They emerge as a result of production of extensive amount of joint liquid inside the joint or in the sheath which surrounds the tendon. In physiological terms, presence of the liquid in the joint cavity is desired because it prevents friction of bone and cartilage surfaces. However, its surplus leads to pressure growth, capsule stretching, and finally emergence of the recess, and therefore a nodule under the skin nearby the joint. This cyst cannot be discharged because the connective tissue which lines the cavity may form a valve which allows a one-way flow of liquid.

Ganglion – place of occurrence

They may emerge anywhere, in particular in the area of the joint exposed to multiple injuries or stress. They most frequently can be found on the dorsal surface of the wrist (e.g. as a result of intensive work at the computer), but also in the area of the knee joint and on feet. They may cause pain as well as imitate other conditions – carpal tunnel syndrome or Baker’s cyst. The latter may be suspected when changes are identified in the popliteal area and cause knee joint pain.

Ganglion – symptoms

Ganglion is filled with viscous content, this is why it is also referred to as the ganglion cyst. It may be painless but may also cause discomfort and pain. There are various sizes of ganglion – sometimes it can be tiny and thus perceptible palpatively, but sometimes it takes a form of a considerable change which stands out of the skin surface. Despite being large, it is partially movable towards the surface. Even though the cyst content derives from the joint liquid, it is denser because when the ganglion forms, water is subject to partial resorption. The growth is relatively hard and usually unaesthetic, but is also a mild change and there is nothing to worry about.

Ganglion – diagnosis

Cysts or nodule with solid content may be a cancerous change and for this reason it is important that you inform your doctor about every single nodule. In order to make a diagnosis, imaging examinations such as X-ray and ultrasound scans are performed, including a rare case of magnetic resonance. Thanks to them, it is possible to identify the content of the cyst  and in effect confirm the diagnosis.

Ganglion – treatment

Treatment at the early stage is primarily based on limiting movements in the joint in question by relieving (for instance with the use of the sling or splint), reducing inflammation and massaging, called ganglion “”smashing”. If this sort of treatment fails to be effective, it is advisable to consider more invasive methods and physiotherapy. In some cases ganglion puncture with aspiration of its content is performed. This is accompanied by steroid drug under ultrasonic supervision. If the aforesaid methods of treatment turn out to be ineffective, it is necessary to consider surgical treatment concerned with cutting the cyst out on the basis of the arthroscopic or open technique. Removal of the change does not always bring durable effects and this is why it is advisable to choose to combine the surgical treatment with physiotherapist’s support to obtain optimal results and enjoy the good condition for a long time.

Ganglion – prevention

Can you prevent ganglion occurrence? No, but you can reduce the likelihood of its occurrence. All you need to do is take regular breaks when working at the computer, do stretching exercises and make sure you are active in your free time. Before you start doing a sport, particularly the one which overloads the hand, knee and foot joints, it is necessary that you have a comprehensive warm-up, and the training itself should not be very strenuous if followed by long sport break. Make sure you do not forget about strengthening all parts of the body muscles – thanks to this you improve your posture and reduce the tension in areas exposed to emergence of ganglion. If there is a suspicion that your joint is subject to considerable stress, it is necessary to reduce the number of exercises, change the nature of work and shorten the time you spend behind the desk.

Ganglion – natural medicine, that is home methods of eliminating nodules

Based on contemporary medicine, it is not difficult to diagnose and treat ganglions. If you suspect that you may have a nodule in the area of the joint, it is advisable to consult a specialist who can diagnose a problem, confirm diagnosis and exclude a cancer. Home and so-called natural method of treating ganglion cysts should be excluded, and the doctor must be visited.

Mechanics of the injury, causes, symptoms and treatment methods discussed by:
Marek Stwaniak, an orthopedics and motor organ traumatology specialist| Rehasport Clinic