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Treating Ganglia

A ganglion is a cystic swelling that is found overlying joint and tendon sheaths, particulary of the wrist. The foot and other extremity areas are sometimes involved. Ganglia are believed to be caused by a rupture of the tissue that lines the joints and tendon sheaths (synovial tissue). 

Ganglia are often difficult to treat without surgery — but nonsurgical methods may help relieve some of your symptoms.

Nonsurgical Care

  • Pads placed around the ganglion can ease pressure and friction.

  • Fluid removal may also relieve symptoms, though ganglia may recur. The gelatinous gel is removed through a large bore needle. You may receive a steroid injection after removal of the cyst fluid.

  • Limiting movements or activities that increase pain may bring relief.

  • Icing the ganglion for 15–20 minutes may temporarily relieve inflammation and pain.

  • If your inflammation is severe, your health care provider may treat your symptoms with medication.



If a ganglion is causing ongoing or severe pain, your health care provider may recommend surgery. Your surgeon removes the entire ganglion wall during the procedure. He or she may also remove some surrounding tissue. If the ganglion has come through a tear in the capsule of the joint, the tear will have to be repaired. The joint will likely be immobilized while the tear heals.

After Surgery

You may feel pain, swelling, numbness, or tingling for several weeks following surgery. Be sure to see your health care provider if you notice any problems in the future. Although surgery is usually successful, there is a chance that the ganglion will recur.


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