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A ganglion is a small, harmless cyst, or sac of fluid, that sometimes develops on the fingers. Treatment options are available for painful ganglions or ones that cause problems.

Ganglions are generally attached by a stalk of tissue to a nearby joint capsule, tendon, or tendon sheath (tissue covering the tendon). Ganglion cysts that are located near the thumb and other fingers of the hand may cause some degree of discomfort especially if they appeared on the dominant hand, they are also called mucous cysts.

Mucous cysts are usually oval or round and may be soft or firm. Cysts at the base of the finger on the palm side are typically very firm, pea-sized nodules that are tender to applied pressure, such as when gripping. Light will often pass through these lumps (trans- illumination), and this can assist in the diagnosis. Your surgeon may request x-rays in order to look for evidence of problems in adjacent joints. Cysts at the far joint of the finger frequently have an arthritic bone spur (which is a small bony bump or projection) associated with them, the overlying skin may become thin, and there may be a lengthwise groove in the fingernail just beyond the cyst.


Treatment for finger mucous cysts can often be non-surgical. In many cases, these cysts can simply be observed, especially if they are painless, as they frequently disappear spontaneously. If the cyst becomes painful, limits activity, or is otherwise unacceptable, several treatment options are available.

Anti-inflammatory medication can be prescribed in order to decrease pain associated with activities.

An aspiration can be performed to remove the fluid from the cyst and decompress it. This requires placing a needle into the cyst, which can be performed in an outpatient setting. Aspiration is a very simple procedure, but recurrence of the cyst is common. If non-surgical options fail to provide relief or if the cyst recurs, surgical alternatives are available.

Surgery involves removing the cyst along with a portion of the joint capsule or tendon sheath called ganglion removal.