Ganglion cysts are very common lumps within the hand and wrist that occur adjacent to joints or tendons.  The most common locations are the top of the wrist (see Figure 1), the palm side of the wrist, the base of the finger on the palm side, and the top of the end joint of the finger.

The cause of these cysts is unknown although they may form in the presence of joint or tendon irritation or mechanical changes. They occur in patients of all ages, but most frequently in women between 20 and 40 years of age.

These cysts may change in size or even disappear completely, and they. These cysts are not cancerous and will not spread to other areas.

In many cases, these cysts can simply be observed, especially if they are painless, as they frequently disappear spontaneously. If the cyst becomes painful, limits activity, or is otherwise unacceptable, several treatment options are available. The use of splints and anti-inflammatory medication can be prescribed in order to decrease pain associated with activities. An aspiration can be performed to remove the fluid from the cyst and decompress it.

This requires placing a needle into the cyst, which can be performed in most office settings. Aspiration is a very simple procedure, but recurrence of the cyst is common. Surgery involves removing the cyst along with a portion of the joint capsule or tendon sheath.

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Ganglion at the palm side of the wrist

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Outer side of the knee and ankle

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Base of the nail phalanx

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Back of the foot

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Finger base (palm)

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* Patient consent was obtained for publication of figures

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