Although not a severe health problem, ganglion cysts can still be quite a bother, as they are at times painful and can cause a lot of discomfort. There are a few medical treatments available, though ganglion cysts might still reoccur. However, you can also try treating ganglion cysts by using natural remedies!
About ganglion cysts
A ganglion cyst is a fluid-filled lump or bump that may occur in any joint; however, it most often occurs around joints and tendons in the hands and/or feet. It is also called a synovial cyst, a myxoid cyst, or a Bible cyst or bump. A cyst is usually 2-3cm big, though with time they can grow up to 5 cm or more, especially after physical activities. It is not cancerous and neither can it spread to other parts of the body.
When it comes to discussing the cause of a ganglion cyst, the most commonly accepted one is related to the „herniation hypothesis”. This means that the cysts occur as a kind of distention of a weakened part of a joint or tendon. Their occurrence can also be caused and affected by the following factors: myxoid degeneration of periarticular fibrous tissues and liquefaction with chronic damage, increased production of hyaluronic acid by fibroblasts, the proliferation of mesenchymal cells, and facet arthrosis. Repeated mechanical stress also plays an important role when it comes to the formation of ganglion cysts.
There aren’t many symptoms when it comes to ganglion cysts: regardless of their size, they can be quite painful and cause a lot of discomfort. Of course, the liquid-filled bumps are a clear sign, as well. Because of these symptoms, they are easily diagnosed, especially the bigger ones, which are visible and pliable to touch. To make sure that the bumps really are ganglion cysts, one can get radiography or an ultrasound done.
Over time, ganglion cysts may get smaller or bigger and, sometimes, they can even disappear without getting any treatment. However, if they are painful, quite big, and causing a lot of discomfort, it’s best to get them treated. However, in some cases, treatment of ganglion cysts might lead to scar formation and stiffness in the hand or leg.
Treatment of Ganglion Cysts
It is recommended to treat ganglion cysts if they become too big or cause a lot of pain and discomfort. Doctors have a few different options when it comes to treating cysts.
At first, your doctor might recommend you to use a splint for a week or two, in order to avoid putting stress on the wrist. This will help shrink the cyst and as it will release the pressure on your nerves, it will also get rid of the pain. After this, the cyst might disappear without needing to treat more.
Cysts can be drained by a doctor. Before trying to drain the fluid, your doctor might inject an enzyme into the cyst; this will help make the fluid easier to remove. Then, with the help of a hypodermic needle, the doctor drains the liquid from inside the lump. Once this is done, the doctor usually injects a corticosteroid in that area.
If draining doesn’t work or can’t be done, and the cyst is extremely painful, the doctor might decide to remove it through surgery. The surgery can be performed with only local anesthesia. After the surgery is done, it is recommended to spend 2-6 weeks of recuperation.
However, none of these treatments promise to remove the ganglion cysts for good. After some time, the ganglion cyst might reoccur.
Natural Remedies for Ganglion Cysts
If you’d rather go for a natural treatment, then you can try some natural remedies for ganglion cysts. You can try and treat cysts by using various herb astringents.
An infusion of herbs can do wonders for your ganglion cyst. All you have to do is use the herbs to make a classic infusion and then soak a compress in the herbal tea. You can cover the cyst with the soaked compress, as this will make it shrink. You can use hazel or white oak bark, as they are known to help reduce the size of the cyst. Echinacea is also good, as it is known to strengthen your immunity and improve your general condition. Licorice can also be used: it has anti-bacterial properties and can therefore help remove the fluid naturally; it can also be used to prevent cysts from reoccurring.
If the ganglion cyst becomes too painful, you can simply use compresses soaked in warm water. Applying them to the cyst will help ease the pain for a while. Ice can also be used, both to reduce the pain and swelling.
Turmeric and ginger can also be used to treat ganglion cysts, as they are known to have anti-inflammatory properties. You can take turmeric extract orally, 400-600mg/day. With ginger, the recommended dose varies between 500 and 1000mg, either one or two times a day.
It seems that Frankincense essential oil can help, as well. Simply rub some oil twice a day (in the morning and at night) and the ganglion cyst will gradually become smaller and smaller. Simply massaging the cyst without using anything can also help, especially if you use that part of the body less than usual.
You can go to your local drugstore and buy a topical cream or lotion that lists arnica as one of its main ingredients. Arnica is also known to have anti-inflammatory properties.
Last but not least, it is recommended to include lots of fresh fruits and vegetables in your daily diet. This way, you will strengthen your immunity system and a healthy body increases the chances of the cyst disappearing on its own, without any kind of treatment. Also remember to rest a lot and limit the physical activities, especially if they involve moving the part of the body that has the cyst.
Side Effects and Contraindications
There are no side effects linked to the natural remedies for ganglion cysts. However, remember to check for allergies to the herbs used to treat the cysts. If you’re not sure, watch out for symptoms of allergic reactions, such as skin rashes, difficulty in breathing, or swelling of the lips and tongue.
Also, doctors often recommend not trying a traditional method of getting rid of ganglion cysts: the “Bible therapy”. In the past, it was believed that by hitting the cyst with a heavy object, it would slowly disappear, as the hit would disrupt the fluid-filled capsule. Books counted as a heavy and safe object and, as everyone had a Bible at home, this was usually used. Because of this, ganglion cysts are also called Bible cysts or lumps. While this method can be effective at times, it is not recommended as it can cause more damage than good, by hurting your hand or foot.
Last, don’t try to drain or burst the cyst at home, with the help of a needle. This is quite risky, as it can lead to an infection, and it probably won’t help completely get rid of the cyst.