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HealthInfo Canterbury

Living with a ganglion cyst

What can I do about a ganglion cyst?

Watch and wait

A ganglion needs to be treated only if it is causing pain or problems when moving your joint, or if you think it looks very bad. Your doctor may recommend you wait to see if it changes. If your ganglion is painful, using a simple, soft, elasticated wrist support when you are doing anything that makes it hurt might help.

Who can help?

General practice team

If you need to find a GP, you can search on this map.

Your GP can try sucking out (aspirating) the fluid with a needle and syringe. The fluid is quite thick so this doesn't always work and the ganglion cyst often comes back. Adding steroid at the same time (see below) can help reduce the chance of it coming back.

Your GP may be able to give you a steroid injection. Corticosteroids are anti-inflammatory medicines that can help reduce the size of the ganglion, which can help with the pain. If your GP is not experienced at giving steroid injections, they will be able to refer you to a GP who is. Musculoskeletal physicians can also inject steroids.

If your ganglion is causing significant pain or problems, then your GP can refer you to a plastic or orthopaedic surgeon, to investigate whether surgery is an option.

Plastic surgeon or orthopaedic surgeon

Surgery to cut out (or excise) the ganglion has the best chance of curing it. However, this is not routinely offered for all ganglion cysts through the public system. There is also a 5% to 10% chance that the cyst will come back in the same position after surgery.

You could choose to pay to see a private plastic surgeon or private orthopaedic surgeon.

On the next page: More information about ganglion cysts

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Endorsed by clinical directors, Plastic Surgery and Orthopaedics departments, Canterbury DHB. Last reviewed February 2017.

See also:

Preparing for your doctor's visit


Page reference: 110448

Review key: HIGGL-13830