Ganglion cysts are very common lumps that sometimes grow in the hand and wrist. The cysts are generally found on the back or palmar side of the wrist when they are commonly called a ganglion, the end joint of a finger where they are called mucous cysts, and at the base of a finger. Ganglion cysts usually come from nearby joints or tendon sheaths. There is no specific cause.
Symptoms of Ganglion Cysts
These cysts appear as lumps that can be painful, especially when they first arise or with constant or strenuous use of the hand. Ganglions often change in size and may disappear completely. These cysts are not malignant (cancerous).
Treatment of Ganglion Cysts
No treatment may be required. However, if the cyst is painful, limits activity, or its appearance is unacceptable to the patient, treatment may be recommended. Simple removal of the jelly-like fluid from the cyst with a needle (aspiration) unfortunately has a very high recurrence rate (at least 60%). Aspiration with steroid injection does not seem to offer a lower recurrence to aspiration alone.
The goal of surgery is to remove the source of the cyst. This may require removal of a portion of the joint capsule or tendon sheath next to the ganglion. If the ganglion is removed from the wrist a splint may be recommended following surgery. Some patients may feel tenderness, discomfort, and swelling at the site of their surgery a little longer than others, but full activity can be resumed once comfort permits. While surgery offers the best success in removing ganglions, these cysts may return.