Though ganglion cysts may look peculiar and even worrisome, they are benign. The cysts form under the skin and attach to a tendon sheath or a joint, usually on the back of the wrist, but also sometimes on the top of the foot.

Each of movable joint in the body is enclosed within a fibrous capsule that has an inner lining known as the synovium, which also forms a sheath for certain tendons. Ganglia (plural) are formed when a thick, jellylike fluid secreted by the synovium—a fluid that normally lubricates a joint or tendon—accumulates around the joint or tendon instead of being reabsorbed by the body. As the fluid accumulates, the area balloons out.

The cysts are typically pea-size but can grow as large as a golf ball.

Symptoms of Ganglion Cyst

  • A round lump—which can be soft or hard—under the skin, often on the back of the wrist.
  • Usually painless, but sometimes pain and tenderness at the bump are present.

What Causes Ganglion Cyst?

Although the cysts can form after trauma to a tendon or joint, the cause is unknown.

What If You Do Nothing?

A ganglion cyst is harmless and often disappears without treatment. If your cyst does not go away and its appearance disturbs you, or if it becomes painful or limits your range of motion, you may want to consider removal.

Home Remedies for Ganglion Cyst

There are no home remedies for ganglia. Removing a ganglion should be left to a doctor. Avoid smashing the cyst.


There are no known ways to prevent ganglia.

Beyond Home Remedies: When To Call Your Doctor

To rule out a tumor, contact your physician when you notice a lump anywhere on your body. Also contact your doctor if the cyst becomes unsightly or painful.

What Your Doctor Will Do

After a careful examination, your physician may remove the built-up fluid with a needle or recommend surgery to remove the cyst. Ganglia frequently recur, however.


The Complete Home Wellness Handbook

John Edward Swartzberg, M.D., F.A.C.P., Sheldon Margen, M.D., and the editors of the UC Berkeley Wellness Letter

Updated by Remedy Health Media

Publication Review By: the Editorial Staff at

Published: 27 Oct 2011

Last Modified: 05 Mar 2015