Growths on a joint capsule or tendon sheath are called ganglions or ganglion cysts. They most frequently occur on the wrist or finger joints. Ganglions feel hard like bones, so they are often mistakenly thought of as bone deformities.
A ganglion is a lump or protrusion on a joint capsule or a tendon sheath. In theory, a ganglion can occur on every joint and tendon sheath. However, they are most frequently observed on hands and fingers. These lumps feel hard like bones – but they have nothing to do with bones.
It is unclear why ganglion cysts form. It is assumed that they are caused by chronic overuse of the joint or tendon sheath.
The symptoms of a ganglion cyst can vary. Some cysts do not cause any pain or discomfort and are simply considered visually unattractive. Others cause pain or limit the movement of the affected joint. The size of a ganglion doesn’t necessarily correlate to the severity of the symptoms. Small cysts are certainly capable of causing more problems than large ones.
Ganglions are diagnosed on the basis of the typical symptoms they cause. If there is any uncertainty, an x-ray examination is carried out or the cyst is lanced so that a tissue sample can be extracted.
The treatment depends on the severity of the symptoms. Sometimes ganglion cysts just spontaneously disappear. So if there are only minor symptoms, it is possible to wait a while before commencing any form of treatment. It is often helpful to immobilise and rest the affected joint, or drain the fluid from the cyst using a syringe.
If these measures prove insufficient, the surgical removal of the ganglion cyst will be discussed. The operation can usually take place in an outpatient setting using a local anaesthesia.