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Ganglion cyst

Written by Caidr's team of doctors and pharmacists based in UK | Updated: 27.02.2023 | 2 min read

A ganglion cyst, known as simply a ganglion to most, is a harmless fluid-filled sac that can pop-up anywhere on the body but is common around the joints and tendons of the hand and wrist.

It's unknown what causes this, but it develops from a neighboring joint or from the structure surrounding certain tendons and is filled with synovial fluid – the same substance found in joints to keep them lubricated.

While lumps and bumps often cause alarm, ganglions pose no risk to your health, and people are often more bothered by the appearance than any symptoms. Rarely you may get an aching or difficulty with certain movements if the ganglion is around a joint.

Next steps

A ganglion will cause no problems with normal activities for most people. If your ganglion is causing pain or difficulty, try taking simple painkillers. There's a good chance it will just disappear with time.

Am I fit for work?

You are fit for work if you have a ganglion cyst.

When should I see my doctor?

If your ganglion is causing significant pain or problems with movement and simple measures have not helped, you should see your doctor. Be warned, though, ganglion cysts can be difficult to treat.

Your doctor may refer you to a specialist for further consideration of treatment if the ganglion is causing you significant symptoms. One technique is to use a fine needle to drain the cyst of fluid, but the lump often returns, so this isn't offered routinely. Surgical removal is occasionally offered for painful ganglion cysts, but, again, there's a high risk of it just coming back.

It is most important to remember that up to half of ganglion cysts can be expected to improve or disappear in the long term.

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