Ganglion cysts are common swellings or masses that develop within the hand and wrist. A ganglion is an accumulation of jelly-like fluid in a tissue sheath that grows out of a joint, like a balloon on a stalk.
These non-cancerous cysts grow in the wrist, at the end joint or base of a finger.
Ganglia are often pea-sized, but can grow due to increased movement of the affected joint or disappear completely without warning. Most ganglion cysts cause some degree of discomfort, although they are often painless. The mass can consist of one large cyst or many smaller ones. Multiple small cysts can appear to be one cyst, but they are usually connected by a common stalk in the deeper tissue.
Though the specific causes of ganglion cysts are unknown, several factors seem to influence their formation. The cysts occur more frequently in women and in individuals whose occupational or leisure activities apply repeated stress to the wrist.
As ganglion cysts are harmless, the first course of treatment is often non-surgical. However, if the symptoms are not adequately relieved or the cyst remains unsightly a number of minimally-invasive surgical options can be recommended. Arthroscopic treatment of wrist ganglions has been demonstrated to be highly effective, with a faster post-operative recovery in most cases. The most common complication of any form of treatment is recurrence of the cyst.