These fluid-filled, noncancerous lumps most often appear on wrists, hands or feet.
Ganglion cysts are lumps that most often appear along the tendons or joints of wrists or hands. They also can occur in ankles and feet. Ganglion cysts are typically round or oval and are filled with a jellylike fluid. They are not cancer.
Small ganglion cysts can be pea-sized. They can change size. Ganglion cysts can be painful if they press on a nearby nerve. Sometimes they affect joint movement.
For a ganglion cyst that causes problems, having a health care provider drain the cyst with a needle might be an option. So might removing the cyst surgically. But if there are no symptoms, no treatment is necessary. Often, the cysts grow and shrink. Some go away on their own.
Ganglion cysts are lumps that most commonly develop in the wrist. They're typically round or oval and are filled with a jellylike fluid.
These are common features of ganglion cysts:
See a health care provider if you notice a lump or pain in your wrist, hand, ankle or foot. You can get a diagnosis and find out whether you need treatment.
No one knows what causes a ganglion cyst. It grows out of a joint or the lining of a tendon and looks like a tiny water balloon on a stalk. Inside the cyst is a thick fluid like the fluid found in joints or around tendons.
Factors that may increase the risk of ganglion cysts include:
During the physical exam, a health care provider might press on the cyst to see if it hurts. Shining a light through the cyst might show if it's solid or filled with fluid.
Imaging tests — such as an X-ray, ultrasound or MRI — can help confirm the diagnosis as well as rule out other conditions, such as arthritis or a tumor.
Fluid drawn from the cyst with a needle might confirm the diagnosis. Fluid from a ganglion cyst is thick and clear.
Ganglion cysts are often painless and need no treatment. Your health care provider might recommend watching the cyst for any changes. If the cyst causes pain or gets in the way of joint movement, you may need to:
An old home fix for a ganglion cyst involves hitting the cyst with a heavy object. This isn't a good thing to do. The force of the blow can damage hands or feet. Also, sticking a needle in the cyst to try to "pop" it can lead to infection.
You might start by seeing your primary care provider. You might then get a referral to a hand or foot surgeon.
Before your appointment, you might want to write down answers to the following questions:
Your health care provider is likely to ask you questions, such as: