As of August 2015, the cause of ganglion cysts remains unknown, as WebMD reports. A theory proposes that trauma results to the breakdown of joint tissues, which leads to the formation of small cysts. These cysts then join into a bigger mass. Another theory suggests that a flaw in the tendon sheath or joint capsule leads to the protrusion of the joint tissues.
A ganglion cyst is a noncancerous, round and fluid-filled lump that often develops on the wrist or hand, according to Healthline. It can also occur on the foot or ankle. The cyst is filled with synovial fluid, which is the substance that surrounds tendons and lubricates joints.
Women who are between 20 and 30 years old are at an increased risk of developing ganglion cysts, as Mayo Clinic explains. Osteoarthritis predisposes individuals to the formation of ganglion cysts, and joint and tendon injuries likewise increase the risk of ganglion cysts.
A ganglion cyst may cause pain, discomfort, tingling sensations or loss of mobility, as detailed by Healthline. Doctors usually diagnose the condition through physical examinations and medical history, and they may request an X-ray or MRI. Additionally, they may take a sample of the fluid inside the cyst for testing.
Ganglion cysts do not commonly require treatment, according to Mayo Clinic. However, if the cyst causes pain or interferes with a joint’s function, immobilization of the affected area or aspiration of the cyst might be necessary. Doctors only consider surgery when other treatment methods fail.