Ganglion Cyst

A ganglion cyst usually is a painless bump on the wrist or finger joint. It connects to the joint capsule and grows like a balloon on a stalk. It is filled with joint fluid. The cause of a ganglion cyst is not known. 

If the cyst puts pressure on a nearby nerve it may cause pain. Otherwise, cysts are painless and harmless. Most tend to disappear over time without treatment. Don't try to drain or break the cyst at home. This can cause harm and usually does not cure the problem.

If you are having pain from the cyst, a temporary wrist splint may be helpful to limit wrist motion. If this does not help, the fluid can be removed from the cyst. This should shrink the size of the cyst. If this doesn’t give relief, the ganglion can be removed by surgery.

Home care

  • If you are having wrist pain, use a wrist splint for 1 to 2 weeks at a time. You can buy one at many drug stores without a prescription.

  • You may use over-the-counter pain medicine to control pain, unless another medicine was prescribed. If you have chronic liver or kidney disease or ever had a stomach ulcer or gastrointestinal bleeding, talk with your healthcare provider before using these medicines.  

  • If a needle was used to drain the cyst fluid or inject medicine into it, keep the site clean and covered with a bandage for the first 24 hours. If a pressure dressing was applied, leave it in place for the time advised.

Follow-up care

Follow up with your healthcare provider, or as advised. Make an appointment for a repeat exam if pain continues for more than 2 weeks in a wrist splint.

When to seek medical advice

Call your healthcare provider right away if any of these occur:

  • Increasing pain in the wrist

  • Redness or warmth over the cyst

  • Fluid draining from the cyst

  • Numbness or tingling in the hand or arm

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