Ganglion Cyst
En Español (Spanish Version)

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, the hand, the fingers, or the feet. Ganglion cysts are not cancerous.

Ganglion Cyst

Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Causes
The cause of ganglion cysts is not known.

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

Symptoms
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
The doctor will ask 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, your doctor may perform imaging studies or perform a biopsy to help confirm the diagnosis.

Treatment
Some ganglion cysts go away without treatment. If the cyst is very tender or unsightly, you may want treatment. 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
You may need to wear a splint on your wrist. Ganglion cysts usually get smaller with less activity and larger with more activity.

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

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

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

Prevention
There are no current guidelines for preventing ganglion cysts.




RESOURCES:
American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons

American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine

CANADIAN RESOURCES:
Canadian Orthopaedic Association

Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation

References:
Ganglia (ganglion cysts). The Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy website. Available at: http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/musculoskeletal_and_connective_tissue_disorders/hand_disorders/ganglia.html . Updated March 2013. Accessed June 6, 2013.

Ganglion. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php . Updated July 13, 2011. Accessed June 6, 2013.

Ganglion cyst of the wrist and hand. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00006 . Updated March 2013. Accessed June 6, 2013.

Last Reviewed June 2013



Health Information Library content is provided by EBSCO Publishing, fully accredited by URAC. URAC is an independent, nonprofit health care accrediting organization dedicated to promoting health care quality through accreditation, certification and commendation.

 

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

 

To send comments or feedback to EBSCO's Editorial Team regarding the content please e-mail healthlibrarysupport@ebscohost.com.