Ganglion cysts are very common lumps within the hand and wrist that occur adjacent to joints or tendons. They can be found at different places on the wrist. Most of the time, they are harmless and will often disappear over time.These cysts are not cancerous and will not spread to other areas.

The most common locations of ganglions are on the top of the wrist, the palm side of the wrist, the base of the finger on the palm side, and the top of the end joint of the finger. The cause of these cysts is unknown although they may form in the presence of joint or tendon irritation or mechanical changes. They occur in patients of all ages and are more common in women than men.

A ganglion cyst contains a thick, clear, mucus-like fluid similar to the fluid found in the joint and resembles a water balloon on a stalk. Because the fluid-filled sac puts pressure on the nerves that pass through the joint, some ganglion cysts may be painful.

Treatment for a ganglion cyst does not usually require surgery. Because the ganglion is not cancerous and may disappear in time, waiting and watching to make sure that no changes occur is often recommended. Wearing a wrist brace or splint may sometimes be required to relieve painful symptoms. Immobilizing the wrist may also allow the ganglion to decrease in size.

If the ganglion causes significant pain or severely limits your activities, the doctor may choose to aspirate or drain the fluids. Aspiration is an office procedure in which the doctor numbs the wrist and punctures the cyst with a needle to remove the fluid. Part of the involved joint capsule or tendon sheath may also be removed. This is of little concern, but afterwards you may feel some tenderness, discomfort and swelling. You should be able to resume normal activities in two to six weeks.