Ganglion Cyst

What is a ganglion cyst?

A ganglion cyst is a fluid-filled mass commonly found in a hand or wrist. It is caused by an accumulation of fluid coming from a nearby joint or tendon resulting in fluid leakage forming a bubble-like mass. Cysts can cause pain by placing pressure on nerves and tendons nearby, and obstructing mobility by blocking the joint. Ganglion cysts are typically not an indicator of more serious medical issues, but they can be painful and debilitating.

What are the symptoms of a ganglion cyst?

Symptoms of a ganglion cyst can include:

  • Pain in affected area
  • Pain worsening with movement
  • Swelling or lump
  • Loss of joint flexibility
  • Weakness in hand or wrist
  • Numbness or tingling in the hand

Who is likely to get a ganglion cyst?

While it is not certain what causes ganglion cysts, some factors known to increase risk include:

  • Local injury such as fracture or dislocation
  • Weakness of local tissues
  • Certain activities in which pressure and strain are put on joints, such as gymnastics or tennis

How is a ganglion cyst diagnosed?

Careful physical examination by experienced physicians at Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush along with patient history and X-rays are usually all that is needed to diagnose a ganglion cyst. Sometimes an MRI may be needed to eliminate other possible conditions.

What are the treatments for a ganglion cyst?

Physicians at Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush (MOR) Hand, Wrist & Elbow Institute are experienced in treating ganglion cysts.

Non-surgical Treatment Options

  • Anti-inflammatory medication
  • Splints
  • Draining cyst fluid with a needle (aspiration)

Surgical Treatment Options

The physicians at the MOR Hand, Wrist & Elbow Institute typically recommend surgical removal of painful or immobilizing cysts. Depending on size and location, ganglion cysts can be removed under regional anesthesia on an outpatient basis. In some cases, the surgery can be performed arthroscopically, minimizing trauma and maximizing recovery. After surgery, a patient is treated with immobilization of the area with a splint for a few weeks and usually requires some occupational therapy.