How long do ganglion cysts last?

How Long Do Ganglion Cysts Last?

While many ganglion cysts go away without medical treatment, they can get worse or require treatment. The time that a person has a ganglion cyst can vary widely from one individual to another. Wondering how long do ganglion cysts last? Let’s dive in.

What are Ganglion Cysts?

A ganglion cyst contains a thick clear fluid that can arise in a few different areas, but the most common are: 

  • The middle of the back of the wrist 
  • The front of the wrist near the base of the thumb 
  • The base of the finger on the palm side
  • Then back of an end finger joint 

Although they can feel painful and uncomfortable, ganglion cysts are actually a very common type of swelling in the hand and wrist. Ganglion cysts are also three times more likely in women than men between the ages of 20-40. 

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Ganglion cyst on man's hand. Hand holding computer mouse
Ganglion cyst on man’s hand.

Do Ganglion Cysts Go Away?

Roughly half of ganglion cysts go away on their own without any treatment. In the early stages of a ganglion cyst, many doctors may wait and see if it goes away. However, if the cyst is painful then you may need treatment. 

Are Ganglion Cysts Hard?

A ganglion cyst isn’t usually very hard. It should be soft and kind of gel-like. It’s normal for a ganglion cyst to change size, and they often look smooth and round. However, there are cases where a ganglion can feel rock hard because the fluid is under so much pressure. But, in general, a ganglion should have a bouncy feel to it. 

Because ganglions can differ so much between people, some report that it feels firm while others say it’s soft. In general, the lump should be able to move easily under the skin.  

Can Ganglion Cysts Be Cancerous? 

Ganglion cysts are not cancerous, and they can’t become cancerous. A ganglion can’t progress into a cancerous tumour. Although it can feel painful and tender, a ganglion is not cancerous. But if you experience a noticeable lump or have pain in the wrist or hand, it’s still important to see a doctor who can diagnose ganglion cysts and offer the right course of treatment. 

Ganglion Cysts Treatment: How Long Do Ganglion Cysts Last?

So, how long do ganglion cysts last? Ganglion cysts can take a long time to go away without treatment, sometimes up to 18 months before they disappear. If it isn’t causing any pain, your healthcare provider may advise watching and waiting. 

If a ganglion cyst isn’t going anywhere and it’s giving you pain, there are a couple of treatment options: surgery or draining the cyst with a needle. 

In most cases, a doctor would use needle aspiration to drain the fluid from a ganglion first. If this works, then no further action is required. Surgery is another option where the cysts or cysts are surgically removed during an outpatient procedure. 

If you’re considering treatment for a ganglion cyst, book a consultation today at The Harley Clinic. At our Harley Street cosmetic surgery clinic, we offer a range of hand and upper limb procedures, including carpal tunnel syndrome, De Quervain syndrome, Dupuytren’s contracture, and trigger finger

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