A ganglion cyst is the most common soft tissue mass of the hand and wrist. It’s a fluid-filled sac that usually results from a joint or tendon sheath. It can start off small and later enlarge, developing singly or have many lobes. Ganglion cysts most commonly develop on the back of the wrist and can also be found in the other locations on the hands.
The exact cause is not known, but it may be related to trauma or degeneration of the adjacent tissue lining a joint or tendon sheath. Cysts at the base of the fingernail are related to degenerative arthritis of the tip joint of the finger.
They’re usually painless but may cause localized discomfort. Cysts in the palm at the base of the finger may cause discomfort with grasping activities, and ones at the base of the fingernail may cause a nail deformity. The cysts may remain stable, increase in size or go away over time.
An aspiration, which involves pulling the fluid out of the cyst with a needle, can be diagnostic and therapeutic. But less than half of all cysts resolves after aspiration.
If the cyst is painful or too big, you can surgically remove it. The procedure is performed as an outpatient under local anesthesia and involves removing the cyst sac with the content.
The patients wear the Ace Bandage for a few weeks. The cyst comes back in about 10 percent of cases. The cyst on the palm side of the wrist is adjacent to the radial artery that is at risk. Infections after surgery are rare.