Can You Treat a Ganglion Cyst at Home?

Ganglion cysts are bumps on the wrist that rarely cause discomfort. But if they do, they’re easily treated with at-home remedies.

Have you noticed a lump on your wrist? It could be a ganglion cyst. Sprouting along the tendons of the wrist, a noncancerous, fluid-filled ganglion cyst is typically quite small — usually less than an inch wide — and has an oval or round shape.

Ganglion cysts have no definitive cause, although they tend to form when fluid builds up in the tissues around a tendon or joint, resulting in a nodule. The condition is most common among women between 20 and 40, people with osteoarthritis in their top finger joint, and individuals who’ve injured a joint or tendon. The majority of ganglion cysts emerge on the front or back of the wrists, but they also crop up on fingers or feet.

Most people don’t experience any symptoms from a ganglion cyst, but the lump may fluctuate in size. You may feel pain or a tingling sensation if the cyst presses on a nerve. Depending upon the location, a ganglion cyst may restrict joint movement. When those symptoms arise, you can try some at-home remedies to reduce the discomfort.

Ganglion Cyst Treatment Options

To diagnose a ganglion cyst, your doctor will first have you gauge its pain level. Then, your doctor will determine whether the cyst is solid or filled with liquid by shining a light on it or draining some fluid from it. Ganglion cyst fluid is usually thick and clear. Imaging tests such as an X-ray, ultrasound, or MRI can confirm if you have another condition that might be causing symptoms, namely, arthritis or a tumor.

Luckily, ganglion cysts respond well to conservative therapies done at home. These include taking over-the-counter pain medications such as acetaminophen, naproxen, or ibuprofen to relieve joint pain if the cyst is irritating a nerve. Additionally, applying a warm compress to the cyst may help empty the fluid in it by boosting blood flow. 

To keep pain at bay, avoid repetitive hand movements and don’t put extra pressure on the growth with heavy jewelry or tight clothing, which will aggravate the cyst. You also shouldn’t lance a cyst yourself with a needle or strike it with a heavy object like a book. Doing either is not only unlikely to make the lump disappear, but could lead to an infection or injury to surrounding tissue, as well. 

If those methods don’t work, your doctor can suggest some medical treatments. Putting your hand in a splint or brace temporarily will immobilize the joint, giving the cyst a chance to shrink and lessen the pressure on a nerve. A doctor may also aspirate the cyst by draining the fluid through a needle. Lastly, your doctor can surgically remove the cyst and the stalk that connects it to the tendon. After surgery, patients wear a brace for several weeks and should refrain from heavy lifting. With occupational therapy to restore flexibility, patients regain full range of motion of the wrist in four to six weeks.

We Treat Ganglion Cysts in the Hands or Wrists

Whenever you see a bump on your hand or wrist, it’s always a good idea to have it checked by a physician. The specialists at Florida Hand Center treat orthopedic hand and wrist disorders, including ganglion cysts. We’ll diagnose your condition and recommend a treatment option. Contact us today for an appointment.