Ganglion Cysts

Ganglion cysts are the most common form of lump or mass in the hand. The fluid-filled cysts occur most frequently in the back of the wrist or at the end joint or base of a finger. Most of these cysts are not painful or cancerous, but may increase in size due to escalated activity. 

Causes and risk factors 

  • Most common in younger people between the ages of 15-40
  • Women are more often affected
  • Common among gymnasts or athletes in sports that apply continuous pressure to the wrist
  • Cysts on the finger joint are often associated with arthritis


  • Visible lump, although some cysts remain hidden under the skin
  • Pain due to pressure on the joint
  • Large cysts can cause concern about appearance

Diagnosis and treatment

Ganglion cysts often don’t require surgery and may disappear or reduce in size with rest and bracing. Another non-operative treatment is called aspiration, where the cyst is numbed and the fluid inside is drained with a needle. If symptoms are not relieved by these methods, an orthopedic surgeon may recommend a procedure called excision. It is an outpatient procedure that involves removing the cyst, as well as the root of the ganglion. Normal activities can typically be resumed in 2-6 weeks after surgery.


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