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

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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 discomfort, pain, tingling, or muscle weakness. It can also 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 throughout the Triangle. Find one near you. In-person and virtual appointments are available.

Treatment for Ganglion Cysts

Your hand and wrist specialist will examine you and evaluate 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. 


Depending on the location of your ganglion cyst, if is painful or limits your movement, your doctor may perform an aspiration to drain the fluid. This can be effective, but ganglions cysts often return following aspiration.  

Ganglion Removal Surgery

Surgery to remove your ganglion cyst, which has a much lower recurrence rate than aspiration, may be an option. The surgery performed on an outpatient basis, meaning you’ll go home the same day. Most people are back to their normal activities in two to six weeks. 

Why Choose Duke

We Treat the Full Range of Hand and Wrist Conditions
This includes injuries in amateur and professional athletes of all ages, degenerative conditions such as arthritis, nerve compressions, and other conditions.  

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 and hand surgeons in complex surgical procedures.

Best Orthopaedic Hospital in North Carolina

Where you receive your care matters. Duke University Hospital is proud of our team and the exceptional care they provide. They are why our orthopaedics program is nationally ranked, and the highest-ranked program in North Carolina, according to U.S. News & World Report for 2023–2024.

This page was medically reviewed on 08/22/2023 by