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September 27th, 2010
12:52 PM ET

How can I make a cyst go away?

Every weekday, a CNNHealth expert doctor answers a viewer question. On Monday, it's Dr. Jennifer Shu, a pediatrician.

Question asked by Kate of Georgia: I have had a bump on the back of my hand for six months that my doctor says is a ganglion cyst. It's starting to hurt. What can I do to make it go away?

Expert answer: Thanks for your question. Ganglion cysts are common, mostly occurring in women between the ages of 20 and 40, but they can affect males and females of any age. They often occur on the hands or wrists but may show up in the areas of other joints or tendon sheaths, such as the feet, elbows and knees. These cysts are harmless, fluid-filled collections typically the size of a pea or small marble, but can be even bigger. Unlike tumors or other growths, they transilluminate, or glow, when a light is shined directly on the bump.

Ganglion cysts may come and go on their own, without any intervention. Usually no treatment is needed unless they cause pain or interfere with one's activities. Since these cysts tend to get larger with more use of the nearby bone or joint, it may be helpful to wear a wrist brace or elastic bandage to limit the movement of your hand or wrist. Over-the-counter pain relievers may also help.

Accidental trauma to the area can cause the cyst to burst and flatten. However, home treatment such as slamming the cyst with a heavy book or poking it with a needle is not recommended since these actions could cause an injury or infection.

Instead, a doctor skilled in treating ganglion cysts may use a needle to aspirate the fluid under sterile conditions. Sometimes a steroid or other medication may be injected into the cyst space. Surgical removal for ganglion cysts may also be an option. Unfortunately, the cysts sometimes come back even after aspiration or surgery.

Be sure to talk to your own doctor about the best treatment for your situation. Good luck!


soundoff (27 Responses)
  1. CaptainObvious

    Great question!!! I would ring their doorbell and run away,steal their newspaper, and smash their pumpkins. I tried and I tried .......Finally the Cyst family moved someone back east...I think New York...

    September 27, 2010 at 13:11 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Causes of Cysts

      If you just discovered that you have a cyst on the ovary, you've come to the right place because you discover what not to eat, why certain chemicals are bad & what supplements help you to keep ovarian cysts away...http://cystonovarycure.info/what-causes-cysts/

      March 3, 2013 at 22:24 | Report abuse |
  2. Mangala

    Homeopathy works the best for Gangolian cysts.
    Please consult someone. In my experience two doses of Calcaria Flour (200 Potency ) a week apart will permannetly dissolve the cyst. (One dose is 3- 4 pills)

    September 27, 2010 at 13:50 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Mike

      Homeopathetic "medicine" works no better than placebo.
      In any event, read up on homeopathetic medicine, and you will find that to treat the cyst, you must dilute the cyst 30x to 60x in water before consuming it.

      Funny.

      September 27, 2010 at 14:42 | Report abuse |
    • Rupali Corraya

      Do you know where I can buy this product?

      July 12, 2012 at 17:04 | Report abuse |
  3. kjones1256

    I had a ganglion cyst in my right radial wrist. I had it aspirated and it was very painful. I literally went into shock from the level of pain. These are very innervated sometimes and it is not comfortable nor is it pleasant. I have also had it surgically removed twice in the last 5 years and the odds of it coming back are pretty high. I know these guys are a pain but if it is not painful or unsightly I would recommend trying everything that you can before you let anyone stick anything in it, or cut it out because its a risky surgery. I had nerve damage for months after the second surgery and could not feel half of my right (dominant) hand. Eventually the feeling came back but you are in a cast for a few weeks afterwards which is a pain and it prevents you from knowing if there are any problems. Take all of this into consideration before you go forth with surgery.

    September 27, 2010 at 14:01 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Laughed

      What a wuss.

      September 27, 2010 at 16:14 | Report abuse |
  4. camb1925

    Had one in my right wrist for about 2 years. Then one day I just noticed that it was gone. Very strange, but that is exactly what this cysts can do.

    September 27, 2010 at 14:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Basil999

    Those are the so-called "Bible Bumps", right? Because the "cure" was to take a family bible and smack it good and hard (I'm not kidding).

    September 27, 2010 at 14:43 | Report abuse | Reply
    • VOICE OF REASON

      I agree I had one on my wrist I smacked it with a hard back dictionary years ago and it hasn't come back. There was no pain with that other than the initial smack and it was never infected. I believe the risk of infection is non existent doctors don't want you to try because they don't get paid for successful home remedies.

      September 27, 2010 at 14:54 | Report abuse |
    • Megan

      Voice, there's a little MRSA thing that tends to be a little troublesome. Just sayin'. Little tired of this "doctors are out to get you" bs-ery.

      September 27, 2010 at 16:10 | Report abuse |
    • Fay

      I want smash my cyst soo bad but scare of the pain.. should i put some ice in the area before?

      December 27, 2011 at 13:48 | Report abuse |
  6. cystbgone

    I had one on my knuckle. My brother, then a med student, told me he would hit it and make it go away (what he was taught in school). Drank some wine, and my brother punched it as hard as he could. Cyst is gone and hasn't come back in 2+ years (although the smack did hurt pretty bad...)

    September 27, 2010 at 15:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Liz

    I had a ganglion on the left dorsal wrist. It got to be as large as a large green grape. It didn't hurt typically unless I moved my wrist in an odd position or hit it on something. I had to quit wearing a watch. I eventually had it surgically removed b/c it was so large. The doctor said it was the largest one he had ever seen. While it was inconvenient to wear a brace and not use my wrist for several months, it was worth it as the cyst has not come back.

    September 27, 2010 at 15:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. hillbilleter

    I had very painful ganglion cysts on both wrists but my doctor said that surgery was only a temporary fix – they grow back if only a few cells are left. However, the cyst on my left wrist, which made a very large lump on top of the wrist joint, burst one day while I was washing dishes and has not returned. I had my right hand in a sinkful of soapy water while picking up a cookie sheet from the stovetop. An electrical current shot through me from left hand and out my right hand. Of course, the cookie sheet sailed across the room, but after I calmed down, I realized that the site where my cyst had been was numb and was once again its normal size. After a few minutes, normal feeling returned and it has never troubled me again. I have asked several doctors to repeat the electrical treatment on the cyst on my right hand, but they all just shake there heads and say, "We don't do that." Well, why not? It works.

    September 27, 2010 at 15:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Bill Morrison

    Yeah, I have one that pops up every few years on one wrist. I've looked into getting it removed, but the doctor informed me that the chance of it returning was pretty high. With that in mind, I just let it be until it gets large and my range of pain-free motion starts being impacted. Once that occurs, I pull out an glass ink bottle and give it a few smacks of increasing intensity until I feel it 'pop'. Once that happens, it quickly drains down and disappears for another 2-3 years. It's a bit of a drag, but the results are no worse than surgery, the pain is a lot less, and the cost is nil. Doctors are a bit reluctant to tell people to self-treat, but that's because there is always some idiot out there who will shatter his wrist with a bowling ball or something. Aspirating (sticking it with a needle) yourself does sound like a bad idea, though. Just get the ink bottle....

    September 27, 2010 at 15:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Laughed

    Soak a needle in iodine and push it into the cyst. Be sure to have a warm damp cloth to catch the fluid that will come out and sooth the area. I get these from time to time also. After spending a few hundred dollars to go to a doctor I figured I could do the same thing he did. I do and it is done...don't believe everything the medical folks toss at you...

    September 27, 2010 at 16:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Stellirama

    Had one on my wrist many years ago. Heard the "book" remedy but used a different method. I just kept pushing on it everyday. I didn't notice a "pop" but it did eventually go away. Haven't had one since.

    Also once had a cyst on my eyelid (underside). I put some very hot (probably hooter than I should have) water on a washcloth and put it on as a compress. That more or less let the "heat" break up the cyst. Haven't had one there since then either thank God!

    September 27, 2010 at 17:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Smash em'

    I have had a reoccurring cyst on my right wrist. It grew large enough to put pressure on the nerves in my wrist and had reduced strength and feeling in my hand. Had the cyst surgically removed – came back 3 months later. Doc shot some cortizone in my wrist to break the cyst up – DO NOT let a doctor do this. It hurts like nothing I have ever experienced and the cyst came back shortly thereafter. The smashing the cyst with a book or placing a thin book and hitting it (not too hard) with a hammer seems to work. It continues to return, but I smash it before it gets too large.

    September 27, 2010 at 18:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. siranda

    Had one when I was a cheerleader in high school. It would pop out of my wrist and it was huge. I guess all the tumbling, clapping, etc. aggravated it. It used to pop out and hurt for weeks then pop back in. After I got out of school, it just kind of went a way

    September 27, 2010 at 18:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. RELIEF

    These things should not be called cysts, they are blown ligament sheeths or weekend spots espessially around joints. I had one about 30mm round for 5yrs. very painfull. anyway Mother in law hit it with a hardcover book gone for 2yrs. Then another 3yrs. a 40mm on the right wrist, I fell knocking it against a metal 90 edge YOW! I was 24yrs then now 54yrs. no more since. Use a hard edge, quick hit (book too soft, crazzy to use glass) most important put clean washcloth in mouth to protect teeth from damage!

    September 27, 2010 at 18:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Montello

    My mother was very prone to ganglion cysts, often having several at once. She went through all the normal procedures with variable success, but always got new ones and/or they would come back. I had a lot of warts in my earlier life and found that vitamin E oil usually eliminated them. Mom was at her wits' end so we tried vitamin E oil more out of desperation than anything. Lo and behold, a few drops of vitamin E oil on a bandaid made a newly hatched cyst disappear in a couple of days. A full-sized one took a couple of weeks to go away. By the way, she continues to get them, but always in new places – they never regrow where they've been "eliminated".

    September 27, 2010 at 23:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. syympho

    I have had a huge one in my right wrist for 2+ years, and it's been extremely painful – I'm a painter, a dancer, and a restaurant server, so having a bum wrist is pretty debilitating. My student health insurance will run out on Jan. 2, 2011, and I wanted it taken care of before I lost insurance.

    This morning I had my doctor's appointment with the hand specialist, and we agreed that surgery could be too hasty. He ended up draining it right then and there – no anesthetic, just topical refrigerant and a MASSIVE needle. He stuck it in, jabbed it all around to put as many holes in it as possible (to allow the cyst to hopefully drain itself of whatever he didn't suck out). It had to be one of the WORST pains of my life – there is a 50% chance it will return, and I think I may rather deal with the constant pain the cyst causes rather than attempting that procedure again... it was EXTREME pain and I am still unable to use my hand.

    I'd recommend just leaving it alone. Sure, it's no fun to always be stuck in a wrist splint, but alternative options are very painful and hand surgery is very risky, so IMO, just deal with it. Wish I had.

    September 30, 2010 at 01:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Joan

    I saw one article on ganglion cyst here -> http://www.primehealthchannel.com/ganglion-cyst-in-wrist-finger-foot-treatment-and-removal-surgery.html . There was a comment there regarding the bee poison as a possible treatment which the author mentioned it may have side effects. Any details you can provide on that?

    October 3, 2010 at 08:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Pepper

    I have one that pops up on the top of my foot every once in a while. It's really painful. I have had success by putting iodine on it several times a day.

    April 9, 2013 at 22:59 | Report abuse | Reply
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    April 25, 2013 at 00:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Lena

    Hey I've had 3 on my right wrist in the past 5 years and I'm 21 and I had the first one drained all of them being an inch it was painful and I'm an artist so it made my hobby difficult I like to bite things and was just gnawing on it out of boredom and it popped and I did the same with the third tonight it hurts at first but then its Ok its just more of a shock because I could feel the fluid rushing everywhere

    March 3, 2014 at 05:00 | Report abuse | Reply

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