Ganglion Cysts

Apparently ganglion cysts can be a problem for gymnasts due to repeated stress applied to their wrists.

Ballerinas experience the problem in their ankles and toes.

Is this a potential issue for calisthenics? I know of a few calisthenics students with ganglion cysts in their wrists. Perhaps there are more.


What is a ganglion cyst?

Ganglion cysts occur when fluid accumulates in a joint or around tendons, commonly in the hand, ankle, foot or the back of the wrist.

Cysts are generally found in people between the ages of 15 and 40 and are more likely to occur in females.  The cause of ganglions is not known but the most common theories are:

  • the result of injury or trauma
  • overuse of the joint
  • small micro-tears in the joint lining that lets the fluid escape from inside the joint

They are medically referred to as soft tissue tumours but are not cancerous.  Most are round or oval shaped and can change size, getting bigger or smaller as more fluid accumulates or gets absorbed. The swelling may appear gradually or suddenly. It may even go away and come back later.
Ganglion cysts can often be painless and go away without any treatment.  However, the pressure that our students apply to their joints means they may not be in that category.  If the cyst compresses a nerve it can cause pain, tingling or muscle weakness. It may help to

  • avoid repetitive motions and limit joint movement to relieve pain and speed up the healing process
  • wear a wrist brace or splint to reduce movement
  • apply ice for 20 minutes at a time, up to 3 times a week
  • massage the area to disperse the balloon of liquid


An article by Lisa Lombardi states:

The truth is, once you’ve had a ganglion, you’re prone to getting them again.


Medical Treatment

Treatments may include:

  • taking anti-inflammatory medication
  • aspirating the fluid from the cyst with a syringe and injecting a steroid
  • surgical removal (ganglion excision or ganglionectomy)

Unfortunately, the cyst can return, even if aspirated or removed.


Dietary Suggestions

  • Consume foods that contain anti-inflammatory properties, such as salmon, ginger, avocados, flax seeds, turmeric, olive oil, tart cherries, walnuts, blueberries, blackberries, sweet potatoes and spinach.
  • Avoid consuming foods that are high in saturated fats
  • Avoid consuming inflammatory drinks and foods, including white-flour products, white rice, sugary foods and soft drinks.
  • Eat fresh fruits and vegetables – extremely rich in vitamins and minerals that help the immune system.


Natural Remedies

Arnica – contains anti-inflammatory properties that may reduce inflammation. It also increases blood circulation with speeds up the process of healing.

Frankincense Oil – rubbing frankincense oil over the cyst helps reduce the size and relieves pain and inflammation.

Turmeric Extract – regulates redox status, protein kinases, cytokines, adhesion molecules and enzymes.  as well as other transcription factors that are associated with inflammation.

Ginger – ginger is comprised of anti-inflammatory properties that can be effective in reducing the pain and inflammation. It is good at blocking the activity of Cox-2 that contributes to pain. Ginger can be added to the diet, via supplements or as ginger tea.

Tea Tree Oil – contains anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. Dilute in coconut oil and apply to cyst.

Other natural remedies are echinacea, apple cider vinegar, lemon grass essential oil, thyme essential oil, cypress essential oil, oregano essential oil, grapefruit seed extract.


Elizabeth Mick

Ballerina Elizabeth Mick experienced a ganglion cyst in her foot. She had the cyst drained several times and spent a year experimenting with home remedies, including soaking in buckets of Epsom salt and hot water. There were days when struggled to finish a class or put on her pointe shoes. By the time she eventually had surgery, the cyst had wrapped itself around a nerve and a tendon in her foot. Elizabeth then had to rebuild some muscle memory and work to improve her technique.



-> Health Online

-> Kids Health

-> 30 Ways On How To Treat A Ganglion Cyst Naturally

-> WikiHow – Coping with a Ganglion

-> The Foot and Ankle Clinic

-> 10 Things Doctors Wish you Knew About Ganglion Cysts


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