Symptoms. Carpal tunnel is a compression of the median nerve within a narrow canal at the base of the palm, causing numbness in the thumb, index, long, and half the ring finger, a ganglion is a synovial cyst arising from the wrist joint causing pain at the site of the ganglion. A ganglion can rarely occur within the carpal tunnel causing nerve compression and carpal tunnel syndrome.
Benign mass vs nerve. A ganglion cyst is a benign mass or lump that frequently occurs at the wrist. It can be uncomfortable and unsightly but is not harmful. Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition caused by entrapment of the median nerve at the wrist. It can be painful and cause both hand weakness and numbness. Irreversible nerve damage can occur in carpal tunnel syndrome. So it should be evaluated by a physician.