Ganglion cyst

A ganglion cyst is a fluid-filled swelling that usually develops near a joint or tendon. Cysts can range from the size of a pea to the size of a golf ball. They’re harmless but can sometimes be painful.

Causes of a ganglion cyst

Ganglion cysts look and feel like a smooth lump under the skin. They're made up of a thick, jelly-like fluid called synovial fluid. This fluid surrounds joints and tendons to lubricate and cushion them during movement.

Ganglions can occur alongside any joint in the body.

They most commonly form on:

•    the wrist (particularly the back of the wrist)
•    hands
•    fingers

Ganglions are harmless, but can sometimes be painful. If they don't cause any pain or discomfort, they can be left alone and may disappear without treatment. Although this can take a number of years.

It's not clear why ganglions form. They seem to occur when the synovial fluid that surrounds a joint or tendon leaks out and collects in a sac.

Treatment for a ganglion cyst

Treatment is usually only recommended if the cyst causes pain or affects the range of movement in a joint. The two main treatment options for a ganglion cyst are:

•    draining fluid out of the cyst with a needle and syringe (aspiration) - usually carried out in the outpatient department of your local hospital or GP surgery
•    cutting the cyst out using surgery – this will be done in hospital 

Treatment for ganglion cysts is usually only carried out if they:

•    cause significant pain
•    disrupt daily activities

If you want a cyst removed for cosmetic reasons, you may have to pay for private treatment.

Complications

Having a ganglion cyst removed is a minor procedure, so complications are rare and seldom serious. However, a small number of people experience permanent stiffness and pain after surgery.

If you have the operation under general anaesthetic, there's also a very small risk of complications to your heart and lungs. Pre-assessment tests before surgery should make sure your risks are as low as possible.

There's always a chance a ganglion cyst will come back after treatment. This is more likely if the ganglion is on certain areas of the wrist.

•    Find out more about ganglion cysts on the NHS website

The information on this page has been adapted from original content from the NHS website.

For further information see terms and conditions.

Health conditions A to Z

Search by health condition or symptoms

Or find conditions beginning with …

Share this page

What do you want to do?
What is your question about?
Do you want a reply?
Your email address
To reply to you, we need your email address
Your feedback

We will not reply to your feedback.  Don't include any personal or financial information, for example National Insurance, credit card numbers, or phone numbers.

This feedback form is for issues with the nidirect website only.

You can use it to report a problem or suggest an improvement to a webpage.

If you have a question about a government service or policy, you should contact the relevant government organisation directly as we don’t have access to information about you held by government departments.

You must be aged 13 years or older - if you’re younger, ask someone with parental responsibility to send the feedback for you.

The nidirect privacy notice applies to any information you send on this feedback form.

Don't include any personal or financial information, for example National Insurance, credit card numbers, or phone numbers.

Plain text only, 750 characters maximum.
Plain text only, 750 characters maximum.

What to do next

Comments or queries about angling can be emailed to anglingcorrespondence@daera-ni.gov.uk 

What to do next

If you have a comment or query about benefits, you will need to contact the government department or agency which handles that benefit.  Contacts for common benefits are listed below.

Carer's Allowance

Call 0800 587 0912
Email 
dcs.incomingpostteamdhc2@nissa.gsi.gov.uk

Discretionary support / Short-term benefit advance

Call 0800 587 2750 
Email 
customerservice.unit@communities-ni.gov.uk

Disability Living Allowance

Call 0800 587 0912 
Email dcs.incomingpostteamdhc2@nissa.gsi.gov.uk

Employment and Support Allowance

Call 0800 587 1377

Jobseeker’s Allowance

Contact your local Jobs & Benefits office

Personal Independence Payment

Call 0800 587 0932

If your query is about another benefit, select ‘Other’ from the drop-down menu above.

What to do next

Comments or queries about the Blue Badge scheme can be emailed to bluebadges@infrastructure-ni.gov.uk or you can also call 0300 200 7818.

What to do next

For queries or advice about careers, contact the Careers Service.

What to do next

For queries or advice about Child Maintenance, contact the Child Maintenance Service.

What to do next

For queries or advice about claiming compensation due to a road problem, contact DFI Roads claim unit.

What to do next

For queries or advice about criminal record checks, email ani@accessni.gov.uk

What to do next

Application and payment queries can be emailed to ema_ni@slc.co.uk

What to do next

For queries or advice about employment rights, contact the Labour Relations Agency.

What to do next

For queries or advice about birth, death, marriage and civil partnership certificates and research, contact the General Register Office Northern Ireland (GRONI) by email gro_nisra@finance-ni.gov.uk

What to do next

For queries about:

If your query is about another topic, select ‘Other’ from the drop-down menu above.

What to do next

For queries or advice about passports, contact HM Passport Office.

What to do next

For queries or advice about Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs), including parking tickets and bus lane PCNs, email dcu@infrastructure-ni.gov.uk

What to do next

For queries or advice about pensions, contact the Northern Ireland Pension Centre.

What to do next

If you wish to report a problem with a road or street you can do so online in this section.

If you wish to check on a problem or fault you have already reported, contact DfI Roads.

What to do next

For queries or advice about historical, social or cultural records relating to Northern Ireland, use the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) enquiry service.

What to do next

For queries or advice about rates, email LPSCustomerTeam@lpsni.gov.uk

What to do next

For queries or advice about  60+ and Senior Citizen SmartPasses (which can be used to get concessionary travel on public transport), contact Smartpass - Translink.