Ganglion cyst

Ganglion cyst

Ganglion cysts are common swellings that form in the hand or wrist. They present as a smooth lump, filled with fluid. Commonly they form in the back of the wrist, near the base of the thumb at the front of the wrist, at the bottom of a finger in the palm or on the back of the hand at the tip of the finger.


Most ganglion cysts just appear without any particular cause. Sometimes there is a history of an injury, or they can appear in a joint (such as the joint at the tip of the finger) that has osteoarthritis.


A swelling or small lump appears under the skin. It may or may not be painful. The diagnosis is usually straightforward as ganglion cysts tend to be smooth and round and occur at specific areas in the hand and wrist. Sometimes a scan may be carried out if the diagnosis is not clear.


Ganglion cysts are harmless and can be left alone. Sometimes they will disappear by themselves. There are no long term problems from having a ganglion.

If the cyst causes difficulties with your hand function, your healthcare practitioner may refer you to a hand surgeon for advice. They may consider “aspirating” the cyst (where the fluid inside is removed using a needle under a local anaesthetic) or removing the cyst surgically.

More information on surgery can be found here:

Ganglion cysts | The British Society for Surgery of the Hand (

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