Ganglion cyst

Person with ganglion cyst

​Ganglion cysts are fluid-filled, soft-tissue benign (non-cancerous) tumors. They are often found on top or under the wrist or at the base of a finger and appear as a bump or a mass that’s well defined and not attached to the skin. These cysts are common and only become an issue when symptoms worsen. 

Ganglion cyst symptoms

Symptoms of a ganglion cyst includes:

  • Aching and/or pain in the wrist or finger

  • A cyst or bump that is smooth, firm, round or tender 

  • Loss of function

  • Pain

  • Swelling localized to the wrist or finger

  • Weakness 

Ganglion cyst diagnosis  

Our team of experts at The Christ Hospital Health Network will diagnose your ganglion cyst. Your physician reviews your symptoms and health history and then conducts a physical exam. A ganglion cyst can mimic other medical conditions, so it’s important to receive an accurate evaluation and diagnosis from our specialists.

Your doctor may recommend the following imaging tests to rule out other conditions:

  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)—a noninvasive test that uses a powerful magnetic field, radio frequency pulses and a computer to make pictures of organs, soft tissues and bone.

  • Ultrasound—a safe, painless test that produces pictures of the inside of the body using sound waves. 

  • X-rays—tests that are commonly done to examine bones and other tissues.

Ganglion cyst treatment 

Treatment for ganglion cysts is often unnecessary if the cyst is small and painless. However, if the cyst grows and begins to interfere with hand function, it is time to discuss treatment with an expert at The Christ Hospital. 

The most common treatment options for a ganglion cyst include:

  • Anti-inflammatory medications—taken to reduce pain. 

  • Aspiration—draining the cyst using a small needle.

  • Cortisone injections—anti-inflammatory injections to reduce swelling and inflammation. 

  • Rest—for the affected area. 

  • Splints—immobilizing the hand or wrist. 

  • Surgery—the ganglion cyst is removed due to severe symptoms. 

If you think you have a ganglion cyst, see a hand and wrist specialist for a thorough evaluation and to learn about your treatment options.

Find hand and wrist specialist near you.