Ganglion Cyst

Ganglion Cyst

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Our hand and wrist specialists diagnose your ganglion cyst and recommend the most effective treatment to relieve pain and restore movement to your hand.

Duke Hand and Wrist Specialists
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About Ganglion Cysts

A ganglion cyst is a fluid-filled sac that appears as a lump, usually at the top or underside of the wrist. These cysts can also develop at the base of a finger or at the end joint of a finger, where they are called mucous cysts.

When to Seek Treatment for a Ganglion Cyst
In some cases, a lump is the only sign of a ganglion cyst. But if the cyst puts pressure on nearby nerves, it can cause pain, tingling, or muscle weakness, or interfere with your grip strength or range of wrist motion. If you’re having symptoms like these, it’s a good idea to see a hand and wrist specialist for a thorough evaluation and to learn about your treatment options.

Duke Orthopaedic Clinics
Our hand specialists see patients at Duke Orthopaedic clinics in Durham and Raleigh. Find one near you.

Treatment for Ganglion Cysts

Your hand and wrist specialist will examine your wrist and ask about your symptoms -- including whether the lump is painful or has changed in size. Imaging tests such as X-ray, MRI, or ultrasound can rule out other wrist conditions and help your doctor recommend the most appropriate treatment for you. 


If your ganglion cyst is painful or limits your movement, your doctor may perform an aspiration. The area is numbed and a needle is inserted into the cyst to drain the fluid.

Ganglion Removal Surgery

Since ganglion cysts often refill with fluid after aspiration, doctors usually recommend surgery to remove the cyst instead. Whenever appropriate, our hand and wrist surgeons perform minimally invasive ganglion cyst removal, using miniature instruments and two small incisions to remove the cyst and its stalk. This typically results in faster recovery, less pain, and less scarring than traditional surgery.

Ganglion cyst removal is outpatient surgery; you’ll go home the same day. Most people are back to their normal activities in two to six weeks. When the surgery is done correctly, the likelihood that the cyst will return is very low.

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Why Choose Duke

We Treat the Full Range of Hand and Wrist Conditions
This includes injuries in amateur and professional athletes of all ages. Many come to Duke from other parts of the country for our expert sports-injury care. We often help patients who come to us after treatment at other centers has failed.

Advanced Care from Skilled Experts
Our hand and wrist surgeons are skilled in the most advanced surgical techniques for repairing injuries, correcting deformities, and restoring function. This includes wrist fusion and wrist replacement surgeries. Whenever possible, our surgeons offer minimally invasive procedures, which can reduce your healing time.

Specially Trained Hand Therapists
Occupational therapists who specialize in hand and wrist conditions are located right in our clinics. They provide customized therapy to help you recover from surgery as quickly as possible -- or avoid the need for surgery altogether.

We’re Innovators and Teachers
Our hand and wrist specialists have developed new treatment techniques and devices that are now used across the country. They’re also teachers who train the next generation of orthopaedic specialists in complex surgical procedures.

Duke University Hospital is nationally ranked in 10 adult specialties
Best Orthopaedic Hospital in North Carolina
Where you receive your care matters. Duke University Hospital’s nationally ranked orthopaedics program was named best in North Carolina by U.S. News & World Report for 2019–2020.
Reviewed: 05/04/2018