Definition

A ganglion cyst is a fluid-filled sac. They are most common on the back of the wrist.

Ganglion Cyst
Nucleus factsheet image
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Causes

The cause is not known.

Risk Factors

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

Symptoms may be:

  • A soft bump, often on the back of the wrist
  • Pain at the site of the bump, but not always

Diagnosis

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.

Treatment

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

Cyst Removal

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.

Prevention

There are no methods to prevent this type of cyst. The cause is not known.

Revision Information