How to provide pain relief for ganglions

Fact Checked

The ganglions are cysts filled with fluid which usually form in the hand, wrist or foot joints and tendons. It is important to note that ganglions are non-cancerous but can cause a lot of pain. The symptoms of a ganglion include elevated bumps close to the hand, wrist or foot joints. These lumps can grow close to an inch across. Ganglions can vary in size depending on how active the individual is. If the individual exercises a lot, the ganglion will become bigger when the joint close to it is being used. In some cases, the ganglions are not apparent to the naked eye, thus the pain can be the only symptom.

What are the causes of ganglions?

It is important to understand how and why ganglions develop. Even though doctors do not know what exactly causes the development of these cysts, a few risk factors have been identified. These include continuous repetitive movement that puts stress on the hand or foot joints. If the individual has osteoarthritis, it can also increase the risk for ganglions. The ganglions on the wrist are quite common among some athletes, particularly gymnasts who put a lot of stress on their wrists.


If the ganglion places pressure on the nerves in the joint where they form, it can cause a lot of pain.

If the ganglion places pressure on the nerves in the joint where they form, it can cause a lot of pain. The joint must be immobilized by wearing a splint or brace so that the joint is given temporary rest. By immobilizing the joint, it allows the ganglion a chance to shrink and possibly go away for good. Take note that the pain will subside once the joint is properly rested.

Aspiration of the ganglion

In case immobilization of the joint could not help relieve the pain caused by the ganglion, the doctor might drain the fluid from it. The process is called aspiration which involves draining the fluid from the cyst. During the procedure, the doctor will apply a local anesthetic before aspiration is started. The procedure is recommended if the ganglion causes severe pain and drastically disrupts the activity of the individual. Nevertheless, ganglions have a high tendency to recur. In some cases, the doctor can refill the cyst with a steroid injection after aspiration in order to reduce the cyst from recurring.

Surgical intervention

In severe cases, the last option to provide relief to ganglion pain would require surgery but doctors will only require surgery if immobilization and aspiration will not work. The surgery for ganglions can be carried out on an outpatient basis. On the other hand, the ganglion can still recur after surgery. As a first aid measure, you have to keep the joint of the individual elevated after surgery if the ganglion is removed. The individual can also experience tenderness for several weeks, thus medications can be prescribed such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen after the surgery.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The information posted on this page is for educational purposes only.
If you need medical advice or help with a diagnosis contact a medical professional

  • All content is reviewed by a medical professional and / sourced to ensure as much factual accuracy as possible.

  • We have strict sourcing guidelines and only link to reputable websites, academic research institutions and medical articles.

  • If you feel that any of our content is inaccurate, out-of-date, or otherwise questionable, please contact us through our contact us page.