Ganglion Cysts are a common condition that can appear as within the hand and wrist. The most common locations are the top of the wrist, the palm side of the wrist, the base of the finger on the palm side, and the top of the end joint of the finger. These cysts may change in size or even disappear completely, and they may or may not be painful. These cysts are not harmful or cancerous, and will not spread to other areas.

Ganglion Cysts arise from the fluid filled areas on the ligaments or between the bones. The cyst is a round sac-like structure filled with Synovial Fluid. The fluid can become thick over time, making the cyst feel firm and spongy.


Ganglion Cysts can be so small that they may not be noticeable underneath the skin. It is common for the cysts to increase in size, sometimes becoming over one inch in diameter. They may also come and go or disappear forever. The unattractive appearance of these cysts is what often leads patients to seek treatment.

Some cysts are painless, but the majority cause some degree of discomfort. The pain is usually continuous and may become worse with activity. You may experience a tingling sensation, considerable pain, or numbness if the cyst is pressing on a nerve.


Overall, Ganglion Cysts occur more often in women. The cause of Ganglion Cysts is unknown. One theory suggests that trauma or stress at the wrist joints may cause degeneration and the formation of cysts. The second, most likely theory is that the Ganglion Cysts form because of structural flaws in the joint tissues. The cyst may develop when Synovial Fluid collects between the joints. As the fluid builds up, it may create a bulge where the tissues weaken.

Treatment Options

If the cyst becomes painful or limits activity, several treatment options are available. The use of splints and anti-inflammatory medication can be prescribed in order to decrease pain associated with activities. Your Lakelands Orthopedics hand surgeon may also use needle aspiration to treat Ganglion Cysts. Your doctor will numb your wrist area for the procedure and remove the fluid from the cyst using a needle and syringe. The site is injected with an anti-inflammatory steroid medication to reduce swelling. Your wrist will be splinted following the procedure to promote healing. Aspiration is a fairly successful treatment, although some individuals may need to have it repeated a few times.

Outpatient surgery is recommended if the Ganglion Cyst is painful, causes numbness or tingling, and interferes with functional movement. Surgery involves removing the cyst along with a portion of the joint capsule or tendon sheath. With Ganglion Cysts of the wrist, both traditional open and arthroscopic techniques usually yield good results. Surgical treatment is generally successful although cysts may recur.

Your surgeon will numb the area before removing the cyst. Following the surgery, you will wear a splint on your wrist for a few days. Your doctor may recommend occupational or physical therapy to mobilize and strengthen the joints. Your Lakelands Orthopedics hand surgeon will discuss the best treatment options for you.


Recovery from surgery differs from individual to individual, depending on the size of the cyst and the extent of the surgery. Recovery typically takes from about two to six weeks. In a few cases the cysts may return. However, the majority of people experience successful results with the different treatment options.

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