Ganglion Cyst


What is a Ganglion Cyst?

A ganglion cyst is a benign mass that generally presents as a lump around/near a joint or tendon. Smaller cysts, however, may be present underneath the skin surface.

Ganglion cysts can occur in various locations. They are the most common mass seen in the hand and wrist, typically appearing as a mass/lump at the back of the wrist and/or the palm side.

Ganglion cysts usually increase and decrease in size. Many do not require treatment and may disappear spontaneously on their own.


Joints have a fluid filled lining of tissue called a joint capsule. It is believed some ganglions form due to a weak area in the joint capsule. As the fluid filled lining pushes through the joint, it appears like a balloon or stalk creating the lump-like appearance underneath the skin.

The exact cause of ganglion cyst formation is unknown.


Observation: Because ganglion cysts tend to resolve on their own and are typically painless, surgery is usually not needed. Watching the cyst over a period of time to see if it goes away is the first line of treatment.

Immobilization: Depending on the location and size of the ganglion cyst, some activities or movements may be uncomfortable. A wrist brace or compression wrap can sometimes relieve symptoms and/or decrease the size of the ganglion.

Aspiration: The ganglion cyst may be drained (aspirated) if it produces significant pain, limits function or daily activities and/or is unattractive to the patient.

During an aspiration, the area surrounding the cyst is injected with numbing medication. Next, the ganglion is drained with a needle. This procedure may help to relieve symptoms. There is a chance, however, that the cyst could return.

Surgery: Surgery may be recommended if symptoms are not relieved by the previous treatments. Even after surgery, there is still a small chance the cyst may return.