How Do You Make a Ganglion Cyst Go Away
Ganglion cysts typically go away without treatment. If there is discomfort, treatment options include surgical removal and medications

In most cases, a ganglion cyst will go away on its own without treatment. However, if your ganglion cyst causes discomfort, treatment options include surgical removal and medications to relieve symptoms.

How do you treat a ganglion cyst?

About half of all ganglion cysts go away on their own. So in the early stages, close monitoring may be all that is needed.

If there is significant discomfort, however, treatment may include:

  • Surgery: If the ganglion does not shrink after 6 months or is causing severe discomfort, functional impairment, and pain, surgery may be necessary. Even after surgery, however, there is a chance the cyst will return.
    • Ganglion cysts in the wrist: For ganglion cysts at the back of the wrist, swelling can be reduced by draining. Draining ganglion cysts at the front of the wrist may be risky because the cyst is often near an artery. Post-surgery complications may include:
      • Wrist mobility loss due to constant pain
      • Nerve branches painfully trapped in the scar
      • Recurrence of the cyst
    • Ganglion cysts in the finger: Ganglion cysts at the base of the finger feel like a dried pea and can cause pain when gripping an object. If the ganglion cyst is in the finger, it can cause wear and tear to the joint and the pressure may form a furrow in the fingernail. The cyst fluid occasionally escapes through the thin underlying skin. Post-surgery complications may include:
      • Lack of finger movement due to discomfort or stiffness
      • Nerve branches painfully trapped in the scar
      • Infection if aseptic precautions were not followed
      • Recurrence of the cyst
  • Medications: Pain medications may help you manage symptoms while allowing you to be active. Make sure to follow  drug instructions carefully, and seek guidance from your doctor, pharmacist, or another healthcare practitioner.

What are different types of ganglion cysts?

Ganglion cysts come in a variety of shapes and sizes and approximately 80% are in the wrist. They may be located in the following:

  • Back of the wrist: Typically occurs in young adults and often goes away without treatment.
  • Front of the wrist: May occur in young adults but also seen in older people with arthritis.
  • Base of the finger (flexor tendon sheath): Typically occurs in young adults on the finger.

Ganglion cysts are mostly seen between ages 20-40, and they are 3 times more common in women than in men.

What are the symptoms of a ganglion cyst?

Ganglion cysts are formed when fluid leaks out of a joint or tendon sheath and causes a swelling beneath the skin. While the exact cause of such leaking is unknown, it may be related to trauma or underlying joint arthritis

Swelling from a ganglion cyst may be noticeable, but often causes no symptoms at all. Aside from cosmetic concerns, however, sometimes the cyst can cause pain and restrict movement in a joint. Most symptoms resolve on their own with time.


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Medically Reviewed on 2/8/2022
Image Source: iStock Images

Genova R. Ganglion Cyst. Medscape.

Gregush RE, Habusta SF. Ganglion Cyst. [Updated 2021 Jul 20]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022.