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Ganglion Cyst vs. RA Nodule: What's the Difference?

Edited by Harlon Moss || By Janet White || Published on March 2, 2024
A ganglion cyst is a noncancerous lump filled with a jelly-like fluid, often found near joints or tendons, while an RA nodule is a firm lump associated with rheumatoid arthritis, often found near joints affected by the disease.

Key Differences

Ganglion cysts are fluid-filled lumps that typically develop along the tendons or joints of the wrists or hands. RA nodules are firm growths under the skin, commonly associated with rheumatoid arthritis, often found near joints like elbows or fingers.
Ganglion cysts are usually painless and result from a leakage of joint or tendon fluid into a sac. RA nodules, however, are linked to inflammation caused by rheumatoid arthritis and can be tender or painful.
In terms of composition, ganglion cysts are filled with a thick, jelly-like fluid. RA nodules consist of inflammatory tissue and can vary in size and number.
Ganglion cysts may resolve on their own over time, while RA nodules often require management of the underlying rheumatoid arthritis for resolution.
Ganglion cysts are generally not associated with any systemic disease, whereas RA nodules are a sign of chronic inflammatory activity in rheumatoid arthritis.

Comparison Chart


Near joints or tendons, often wrists or hands
Commonly near joints affected by rheumatoid arthritis, like elbows

Pain and Symptoms

Usually painless, can cause discomfort if large
Often tender or painful, associated with joint symptoms


Filled with jelly-like fluid
Consist of inflammatory tissue


Not linked to systemic diseases
Indicative of chronic inflammatory activity in rheumatoid arthritis

Treatment and Resolution

May resolve spontaneously or require minor treatment
Often require management of underlying rheumatoid arthritis

Ganglion Cyst and RA Nodule Definitions

Ganglion Cyst

Ganglion cysts are noncancerous and contain a thick, clear fluid.
He noticed a ganglion cyst growing larger on his hand.

RA Nodule

RA nodules are often found near joints affected by the disease.
He developed RA nodules on his fingers, indicating severe arthritis.

Ganglion Cyst

A ganglion cyst typically develops along tendons or around joints.
A small ganglion cyst appeared near her ankle joint.

RA Nodule

RA nodules can vary in size and number in rheumatoid arthritis patients.
Multiple RA nodules appeared on her joints as her condition progressed.

Ganglion Cyst

Ganglion cysts can vary in size and may sometimes be painful.
Her ganglion cyst caused discomfort when she moved her wrist.

RA Nodule

RA nodules consist of inflammatory tissue and can be tender.
The RA nodules were painful when pressed.

Ganglion Cyst

A ganglion cyst is a fluid-filled lump near joints or tendons.
The doctor diagnosed the lump on her wrist as a ganglion cyst.

RA Nodule

An RA nodule is a firm lump associated with rheumatoid arthritis.
The RA nodules on her elbow were a sign of her arthritis.

Ganglion Cyst

Ganglion cysts are often observed in the wrist and hand area.
The ganglion cyst on his wrist was visible when he flexed his hand.

RA Nodule

RA nodules are indicative of chronic inflammatory activity.
Her doctor noted the presence of RA nodules as a sign of active arthritis.


What are the symptoms of an RA nodule?

They can be tender or painful and are associated with joint symptoms.

Where do ganglion cysts commonly occur?

Often on the wrists or hands.

What is a ganglion cyst?

A noncancerous, fluid-filled lump usually found near joints or tendons.

Can ganglion cysts be painful?

They are usually painless but can cause discomfort if they press on nerves.

How are ganglion cysts treated?

Treatment can range from observation to aspiration or surgery.

Can RA nodules disappear on their own?

They often require treatment of the underlying rheumatoid arthritis to resolve.

What is an RA nodule?

A firm lump under the skin associated with rheumatoid arthritis.

What causes a ganglion cyst to form?

The exact cause is unknown, but they may result from joint or tendon fluid leakage.

Who is more likely to develop a ganglion cyst?

They are more common in people aged 20-40, especially women.

How common are ganglion cysts?

They are one of the most common types of hand cysts.

What causes RA nodules to form?

They result from inflammation due to rheumatoid arthritis.

Are RA nodules a serious concern?

They indicate chronic inflammation due to rheumatoid arthritis and may require medical attention.

Are RA nodules related to the severity of arthritis?

Their presence can indicate more severe or active rheumatoid arthritis.

Can ganglion cysts recur?

Yes, they can recur even after treatment.

Can children develop RA nodules?

It's rare, as RA nodules are typically associated with long-standing rheumatoid arthritis.

Do ganglion cysts require surgery?

Surgery is an option if the cyst is painful or interferes with joint movement.

Do RA nodules affect joint function?

They can, especially if they are large and located near joints.

Are RA nodules cancerous?

No, they are not cancerous but are related to autoimmune activity.

How can RA nodules be prevented?

Effective management of rheumatoid arthritis can reduce their occurrence.

Can ganglion cysts indicate other health issues?

Generally no, but they can sometimes press on nerves, causing pain or tingling.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.

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