A ganglion cyst is a fluid-filled sac that is usually attached to either a tendon sheath or a joint lining. Ganglion cysts usually appear on the back of the wrist, although they may be on the underside of the wrist, the hand, the fingers, or the feet. Ganglion cysts are always benign.
The cause of ganglion cysts is unknown.
A risk factor is something that increases your chance of getting a disease or condition. Risk factors for a ganglion cyst include:
• Sex: Female
• Age: 20-50 years old
• Participating in gymnastics
• Appearance of a soft bump, usually on the back of the wrist
• Pain or tenderness at the site of the bump
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history, and perform a physical exam. Most ganglion cysts are easily diagnosed based on their location and appearance. The doctor may use a small needle to remove some of the cyst's fluid for testing.
Other tests may include:
X-ray – a test that uses radiation to take a picture of structures inside the body, especially bones
MRI Scan – a test that uses magnetic waves to make pictures of structures inside the affected area
Some ganglion cysts go away without treatment. If the cyst is very tender or unsightly, you may request treatment from your doctor. Even with treatment, ganglion cysts very often return.
• Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or aspirin to relieve pain and swelling
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 and more likely to injure you.
Your doctor may suggest that you wear a splint on your wrist. Ganglion cysts usually get smaller with less activity and larger with more activity.
A needle is put into the cyst to drain the fluid.
A steroid solution is injected into the cyst. This is usually done just after aspiration.
Surgery can be performed to remove the cyst. This is done when cysts are large and unsightly or painful. They may return even after properly performed surgery.
There are no guidelines for preventing a ganglion cyst.