A ganglion cyst is a fluid-filled sac. They are most common on the back of the wrist.
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Ganglion cysts are more common in young people and women. They are also more common in people who do activities that put stress on the wrist, such as gymnastics.
Symptoms may be:
- A soft bump, often on the back of the wrist
- Pain at the site of the bump, but not always
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. An exam will be done that focuses on your wrist. This is often enough to make the diagnosis.
Some ganglion cysts go away in time and may only need to be monitored. The goal is to ease any pain and reduce activity. Options may be:
- Medicine to ease pain and swelling
- A corticosteroid injection to shrink the cyst
- A splint to keep the wrist in place to allow it to rest
The cyst can be removed if it is painful or large and unsightly. This can be done with:
- A needle that drains fluid from the cyst
- Surgery to remove the cyst
It is possible for a cyst to return after it has been removed.
Note: At one time, people would smash this type of cyst with a heavy object. This is likely to cause more harm.
Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons http://orthoinfo.org
Sports Med—American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine http://www.sportsmed.org
Canadian Orthopaedic Association http://www.coa-aco.org
Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation http://www.canorth.org
Common benign skin lesions. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/common-benign-skin-lesions . Updated February 5, 2018. Accessed September 30, 2019.
Ganglion cyst of the wrist and hand. Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00006. Updated March 2013. Accessed September 30, 2019.
Ganglia (ganglion cysts). Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/musculoskeletal-and-connective-tissue-disorders/hand-disorders/ganglia. Updated October 2018. Accessed September 30, 2019.
Moreno-Ramírez D, Ruiz-Villaverde R, et al. process of care for patients with benign cysts and tumors: Consensus document of the Andalusian Regional Section of the Spanish Academy of Dermatology and Venereology (AEDV). Actas Dermosifiliogr. 2016 Jun;107(5):391-399.
- Reviewer: EBSCO Medical Review Board Warren A. Bodine, DO, CAQSM
- Review Date: 09/2019
- Update Date: 08/25/2020