To Treat and Prevent Ganglion Cysts
Dr. Ben Kim
ganglion cyst is a fluid-filled bump that forms under the skin near a joint, most
commonly in the wrist area, and sometimes in the shoulder, elbow, hip, knee, ankle,
or foot regions.
conventional medical view of ganglion cysts is that they are idiopathic, meaning
that a definitive cause or causes are not known. They're usually left alone, aspirated,
experience has been that ganglion cysts - especially those that occur in the wrist
area - tend to arise due to underlying joint dysfunction.
of your joint surfaces are cushioned by a layer of tissue called synovial lining,
as well as by liquid called synovial fluid.
the joints in your wrist region are not moving properly and/or under constant
strain, the synovial lining in this area can get irritated to a point where it
begins to get squeezed out from between your wrist bones, creating a pouch-like
appearance below the surface of your skin. Synovial fluid follows an outpouching
as it develops, leading to a fluid-filled bump.
years ago, ganglion cysts were also called Bible bumps because the standard treatment
for such bumps involved having one's doctor slam down on it with a heavy book,
usually a Bible.
a ganglion cyst may cause it to break apart or shrink, but without addressing
the root cause of a cyst, it will usually return over time; this is also true
of cysts that are removed via aspiration or excision, though the recurrence rate
for cysts that are properly excised is lower than that for those that are simply
you have a bump around one of your joints that resembles a ganglion cyst, the
first step to take is to visit your physician to confirm that your bump is indeed
a ganglion cyst. Sometimes, other conditions like lipomas, bone spurs, local infections,
and in rare cases, even bone tumors, can present like ganglion cysts.
you and your physician are sure that you have a ganglion cyst, the next step to
take is to think about ways in which the affected joint is being strained on a
regular basis. If you can identify an everyday activity that could be irritating
the affected area, look for a way to reduce or modify that activity.
appropriate rest or addressing the aggravating activity doesn't lead to significant
improvement, you may want to visit a chiropractor, physiotherapist, osteopath,
naturopath, or other health care practitioner who is trained and experienced with
mobilization refers to putting the bones that make up your joints through basic
ranges of motion to help ensure fluid joint motion; this is critical to addressing
and preventing ganglion cysts, as restricted joints can be a primary cause of
ganglion cyst formation.
example, in your wrist region, you have eight small carpal bones that are neatly
arranged in two rows. Each of these carpal bones should have a certain amount
of give - called joint play. An experienced practitioner can put each of your
carpal bones (and the bones that lie below and above your carpal bones) through
various ranges of motion to help ensure that the synovial linings in this region
aren't being irritated by your everyday activities.
good practitioner can also provide guidance on how to do specific stretches and
exercises for the affected area to help promote optimal joint motion and reduce
the likelihood of having a ganglion cyst come back.
a ganglion cyst arises from a tendon sheath, though this scenario is less common
than cysts that arise from within joints. In the case of a cyst that comes from
a tendon sheath, it's still wise to follow the steps above i.e. visit your physician
to confirm the diagnosis, and try to identify everyday activities that may be
aggravating the tendon/muscle involved.
the cause of a tendon sheath-derived ganglion cyst is a short, scarred, or injured
tendon/muscle, I recommend seeking an evaluation and treatment from a practitioner
who is familiar with Active Release Technique, also called ART.
involves applying manual pressure on tendons, muscles, and other soft tissues
while the target tissues are put through their normal ranges of motion. Applying
pressure to tissues while they are in motion can help promote optimal range of
motion of the target area, as well as healthy soft tissues in the area through
increased blood flow.
find a certified ART practitioner in your area, you can do a search here:
an ART provider
note: I know a number of chiropractors who are highly skilled with ART but not
certified by the organization that provides formal ART training. To me, certification
isn't as important as how often the practitioner uses ART in his or her practice.
In looking for someone who can provide ART, simply ask how experienced the practitioner
is with it.
bottom line on ganglion cysts is this: They're benign, and only present a problem
if they restrict range of motion or cause discomfort during everyday activities.
For some people, ganglion cysts create psychological and emotional burden, as
they look unusual.
there is significant joint restriction or discomfort, the best first step is to
have an experienced practitioner ensure optimal health of the joints and soft
tissues involved; if this doesn't lead to significant improvement, it's best to
have an experienced surgeon excise the ganglion cyst, and then to continue with
alternative treatments to ensure that the joints and soft tissues involved return
to optimal health, which will reduce the likelihood of having the cyst return.
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