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Understanding Ganglion Cysts

Understanding Ganglion Cysts

Understanding Ganglion Cysts

Ganglion cysts are noncancerous lumps that typically develop along the tendons or joints of your wrists or hands, though they can also appear on ankles and feet. They are among the most common benign soft-tissue masses. In this blog, we’ll explore what ganglion cysts are, their symptoms, causes, and treatment options.

What is a Ganglion Cyst?

A ganglion cyst is a round, fluid-filled lump that usually appears along the tendons or joints. The fluid inside the cyst is a thick, sticky, clear, colorless, jelly-like material. Depending on the size, ganglion cysts may feel firm or spongy.


Ganglion cysts are usually visible and can grow to be about an inch in diameter. They are typically painless, but if they press on a nerve, they can cause pain, tingling, numbness, or muscle weakness.


The exact cause of ganglion cysts is unknown, but they tend to develop at points of joint or tendon irritation. They can increase in size when the tissue around the joint becomes irritated and can decrease as the irritation subsides.

Treatment Options

Treatment might not be necessary if the ganglion cyst is painless and does not interfere with function. Options vary depending on the severity of the symptoms:

  • Observation: Because these cysts can disappear on their own, doctors often recommend waiting and watching to see if there are any changes.
  • Immobilization: Activity can cause the ganglion cyst to increase in size, so immobilization with a brace or splint may relieve symptoms and cause the cyst to decrease in size.
  • Aspiration: The fluid may be drained from the cyst with a needle in a process called aspiration, which can provide temporary relief, although cysts often recur.
  • Surgery: Surgical removal may be an option if other treatment methods fail. Surgery involves removing the cyst as well as part of the involved joint capsule or tendon sheath, which is considered the root of the ganglion. However, even after surgery, ganglion cysts may recur.


While ganglion cysts are generally not harmful, they can be a cosmetic concern or cause discomfort depending on their size and location. If you suspect you have a ganglion cyst, it’s a good idea to consult with a healthcare professional who can provide guidance based on your specific condition.

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