Q: What is a ganglion cyst?
A: Ganglion means a knotty growth and a cyst is a fluid-filled sac under the surface of the skin. Ganglion cysts usually occur on the wrist or hand, especially on the top of the wrist. They are not cancerous.
No one knows exactly what makes a ganglion cyst form. Sometimes they seem related to overuse, similar to what causes repetitive strain injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome. Continued pressure from overuse may push out some of the joint?s lubricating fluid, leading to the development of a cyst.
Ganglion cysts are often harmless, causing no pain or discomfort and requiring no treatment. For some lucky people, the cyst goes away by itself. But in other cases, they start out painless and later become painful and uncomfortable, possibly interfering with use of the hand.
One kind of treatment involves aspiration, or removal of the fluid with a needle. Though aspiration is commonly used, it?s not ideal because the cysts frequently recur. Surgical removal usually cures the problem. Surgery is a relatively simple procedure that can be done on an outpatient basis. Some pain and swelling may follow the surgery. With ganglion cysts of the wrist, full recovery may take several weeks.