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Ganglion Cyst

(Cyst, Ganglion; Ganglion)

 

Definition

A ganglion cyst is a fluid-filled sac. It is usually attached to the membrane that surrounds a tendon or a joint lining. Ganglion cysts usually appear on the back of the wrist. They may also be on the underside of the wrist, hand, fingers, or feet. Ganglion cysts are not cancerous.

Ganglion Cyst

Nucleus factsheet image

Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

 

Causes    TOP

The cause of ganglion cysts is not known.

 

Risk Factors    TOP

Ganglion cysts are more common in young people and women. Participating in sports that put a lot of repeated stress on wrists increases the chance of developing a ganglion cyst.

 

Symptoms    TOP

Symptoms can include:

  • A soft bump, usually on the back of the wrist
  • Pain or tenderness at the site of the bump, but they do not always result in pain
 

Diagnosis    TOP

You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Most ganglion cysts are easily diagnosed based on the location and appearance.

If the diagnosis is not clear, imaging studies or a biopsy may be done to help confirm the diagnosis.

 

Treatment    TOP

Some ganglion cysts go away without treatment. If the cyst is tender or unsightly, treatment may be wanted. Even with treatment, ganglion cysts can return.

Note: Do not attempt to smash the cyst with a heavy object, a traditional home remedy. This is unlikely to get rid of the cyst, but it is likely to cause injury.

Treatments include:

Monitoring

Because many ganglion cysts disappear on their own, watching it to make sure it is improving may be all that is needed.

Immobilization

A splint may need to be worn on the wrist. Ganglion cysts usually get smaller with less activity and larger with more activity.

Aspiration    TOP

A needle is put into the cyst to drain the fluid.

Corticosteroid Injection    TOP

A steroid solution is injected into the cyst. This is usually done after the cyst is drained.

Surgery    TOP

The cyst can be surgically removed. This is done when they are large and unsightly or painful. Cysts may return even after surgery.

 

Prevention    TOP

There are no current guidelines for preventing ganglion cysts.

RESOURCES:

Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
http://orthoinfo.org

Sports Med—American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine
http://www.sportsmed.org

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

Canadian Orthopaedic Association
http://www.coa-aco.org

Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation
http://www.canorth.org

REFERENCES:

Common benign skin lesions. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T908545/Common-benign-skin-lesions . Updated July 24, 2017. Accessed August 30, 2017.

Ganglia (ganglion cysts). Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Updated November 2016. Accessed August 30, 2017.

Ganglion cyst of the wrist and hand. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons Ortho Info website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Updated March 2013. Accessed August 30, 2017.



Last reviewed September 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Warren A. Bodine, DO, CAQSM
Last Updated: 9/29/2014

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