ganglion cyst treatment
In most cases, ganglion cysts require no treatment. However, if the cyst is painful or causes cosmetic concerns, treatment can include immobilization, aspiration or surgery.

In most cases, ganglion cysts require no treatment. Treatment is typically only considered if you have pain at the site of the cyst or for cosmetic concerns.

Doctors generally recommend a wait-and-watch approach, in which they observe the growth of the ganglion and watch out for any symptoms, such as pain. Most likely, the cyst will go away on its own. However, if it does not and turns extremely painful restricting your daily activities, the following treatment options may be utilized.


Involves the use of a splint or brace to support the affected wrist, which helps release pressure on the nerves, shrinking the ganglion cyst and alleviating pain. As the pain decreases, your doctor may ask you to perform exercises that strengthen the wrist muscles.


Involves the insertion of a needle into the ganglion cyst to drain the fluid. This procedure helps reduce pain by relieving pressure on the nearby tissues but does not eliminate the cause (the joint capsule or tendon sheath) of the ganglion cyst.


If other treatment options do not help eliminate pain or fail to reduce the size of the ganglion cyst or if the ganglion cyst comes back, surgery remains the only treatment option. Surgery to remove the ganglion cyst is referred to as excision and involves cutting the ganglion completely from its root.

Excision is a minor surgical procedure that is typically performed as an outpatient surgery, which means you will only be observed for a few hours after the procedure and then discharged on the same day. It may take up to six weeks to resume all your activities normally as before. Additionally, the ganglion cyst can come back even after the excision.

Avoid the temptation of popping the ganglion cyst by thumping on it or draining it by yourself with the help of a needle. The cyst may rupture and get infected.

What causes a ganglion cyst?

The exact cause of ganglion cysts remains unknown. However, they occur most commonly in younger people aged 15 to 40 years old. Women are more likely to develop ganglion cysts than men.

Repetitive stress over the wrist can trigger the formation of a ganglion cyst. Hence, it is commonly seen in people involved in gymnastic activities.

Women aged 40 to 70 years old tend to develop mucous cysts, a type of ganglion cyst that develops over the tips of the finger. This occurs typically in association with arthritis of the finger joints.

What are the signs and symptoms of a ganglion cyst?

A ganglion cyst can be seen as a visible lump along with the tendons or joints of your hands, wrists, ankles or feet, although some may also stay hidden. The cyst may cause pain if it puts pressure on its neighboring nerve.

Other symptoms include:

How do doctors diagnose a ganglion cyst?

Doctors generally diagnose the cyst by asking you about your signs and symptoms, as well as performing a simple physical examination that involves prodding the cyst and looking for tenderness. Moreover, they may pass light through the cyst to check if the light shines through it.

They may also order tests such as X-rays, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans or ultrasonography to find out if the ganglion cyst is associated with arthritis of the wrist/ankle, soft tissue or a bone tumor.


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Medically Reviewed on 8/10/2021
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