Cysts are usually non-cancerous fluid-filled lumps in the tendons and joints of the hands, wrists, and joints. You may notice a small, balloon-like lump near the joint, which could indicate a cyst. These uncomfortable and unsightly bumps are not dangerous, but they can cause discomfort and pain if they are near certain joints. Although polynodular cysts do not require specific treatment, there are several treatment options.

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What is a ganglion cyst?
The most common type of lump or mass, nodular cysts are usually found on the arms. They are not cancerous, usually harmless, 1-3 cm in diameter. They grow from the tissue surrounding the joint, such as tendons, the lining of the joint, and the tendon sheath. Inside the cyst is a thick, slippery fluid similar to joint lubrication.

They can quickly appear, disappear, and change in size. The shape of the cyst depends on the amount of activity you do. For example, if the cyst is close to your wrist, constant use without a wrist brace can cause the cyst to enlarge. Conversely, resting the wrist can help shrink the cyst.

What increases your risk of developing nodular cysts?
It is not known exactly what triggers the formation of nodular cysts. People between the ages of 15 and 40, as well as women, are more likely to develop cysts. It is also believed that gymnasts are more likely to get them because they often put pressure on their wrists.

What symptoms might you have?
Most nodular cysts form a visible lump on or near a joint, but smaller ones may remain under the skin. Most of these cysts cause no symptoms other than visible symptoms, but some can cause pressure on the nerves that pass through the joints. If this happens, you may experience a lot of pain, irritation, and muscle weakness. Also, depending on the location, some movements may be restricted.

How is a ganglion cyst diagnosed?
If you are in pain or the cyst is interfering with your daily activities, ask your doctor for advice on what steps to take. When you visit the doctor, you will take a detailed history and undergo a physical examination. For a more complex examination, you may need to undergo an ultrasound so that the doctor can confirm that the growth is caused by fluid and not a solid mass.

Another option for diagnosing cysts is for the doctor to perform an MRI, as it can look for small cysts that cannot be seen with the naked eye. The doctor may also use an MRI to determine if the cyst is attached to the underlying tendon or if it is not the same as the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome.

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