A ganglion cyst, also known as a synovial cyst, is a benign, fluid-filled cyst found in or around a joint. It is quite common and benign, but it can also be painful and disfiguring. When located inside a joint, a ganglion cyst can limit motion.
No one knows what triggers the formation of a ganglion. Ganglions are common among gymnasts, who repeatedly apply stress to the wrist. Women are more likely to be affected than men.
Because the fluid-filled sac puts pressure on the nerves that pass through the joint, some ganglion cysts may be painful. Smaller ganglions that remain hidden under the skin (called occult ganglions) may be quite painful. Large ganglions, even if they are not painful, are unattractive.
Ganglion cysts are usually diagnosed with the help of an ultrasound image. Sometimes, an MRI is needed to find a ganglion cyst that is hidden under the skin.
Some can be left alone. But if the cyst is causing pain or complications, it can be aspirated (drained) with a hypodermic needle or removed using arthroscopic surgery.
Below, read stories by HSS patients treated for ganglion cysts, or find the best doctor at HSS to match your condition and insurance.
Same and next-day access to orthopedic care