A ganglion is a type of cyst that forms near a joint or tendon, often on your hands or feet. These cysts are made up of synovial fluid, which usually lubricates your joints and reduces friction. Often ganglion cysts will feel smooth and vary in size, with some cysts growing as large as a plum.
The exact cause of ganglions is unknown, but we suspect that they are caused by injury or a leaking of synovial fluid, which then collects under the skin. They tend to be more common amongst individuals who have previously injured a joint or tendon, as well as sufferers of osteoarthritis.
Ganglions are usually very harmless and in most cases they’ll disappear by themselves, but sometimes they can occur next to a nerve, causing pain or discomfort. You may not like the appearance of your ganglion, particularly if it’s large or prominently positioned, for example on your hand.
Ganglions can be treated by draining the cyst using a syringe, or removing it entirely through surgery. Usually treatment is only necessary if your ganglion is causing you pain or affecting your movement.
Draining the cyst is the least invasive treatment option, but in 50% of cases ganglions return. When this happens, arthroscopy – keyhole surgery – can be used to remove the cyst entirely and prevent if from reoccurring.
If you think that you have a ganglion, make an appointment to see your GP. In some cases they will be able to drain your ganglion cyst themselves. Otherwise they will refer you to an orthopaedic surgeon, such as Mr Nirav Shah, for a second opinion and treatment. In most areas the NHS will only fund the removal of ganglions that are causing significant discomfort.
Alternatively, if you have a ganglion on your foot or ankle, you can book a private consultation directly with Mr Shah. Following a thorough diagnosis, Mr Shah will discuss your treatment options with you in detail, and make sure you have all the information you need to make an informed decision.