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Ganglion Cyst


Surgical removal of the cyst is needed when the mass is painful, interferes with function (especially when your dominant hand is involved), or causes numbness or tingling of the hand or fingers.

Next Steps Follow-up

After you have been diagnosed with a ganglion cyst and have chosen to have treatment, follow-up will be different based on what you have chosen to do.

  • After simple aspiration, your doctor may ask you to start moving the joint soon after the procedure.
  • Most likely after surgery, your joint will be splinted for up to 7 to 10 days. A splint is a hard wrap that will keep you from moving your joint.
  • Recent studies show that splinting for a long period of time doesn't really help, and use of the joint soon after treatment is being encouraged.
  • Your doctor may ask you to return for a check-up after your surgery and will decide if physical or occupational therapy is needed. Follow-up care will be based on your personal needs.


Because the cause of a ganglion cyst is not known, it is difficult to tell how to prevent them. Early evaluation and treatment are recommended.


Because this is a harmless tumor that can go away on its own, or after a simple needle aspiration or minor surgery, chances are good that you will have a full recovery. Because ganglion cysts may come back after any of these treatments, however, a single treatment may not be enough.


Media file 1: A traumatic ganglion cyst. This person came to the emergency department with a painful bump after the wrist was hit by a car door.

ganglion cyst 1

Media file 2: The jellylike fluid taken from the cyst in Image 1. Its presence confirms the diagnosis of a ganglion cyst.

ganglion cyst 2

Media file 3: An ultrasound image shows the ganglion cyst (area between markers) from Image 1.

Media file 4: A ganglion cyst that has been operated on in the past. This ganglion returned because this person plays the cymbals in her school band.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by David T. Derrer, MD on October 26, 2015
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