Noncancerous bumps called ganglion cysts typically appear along the tendons or joints of your wrists or hands. They can also happen in the feet and ankles. Usually circular or oval in shape, ganglion cysts have a jelly-like fluid inside.


The following characteristics apply to lumps associated with ganglion cysts:

  • Location. In your hands or wrists, ganglion cysts most frequently form near the tendons or joints. The ankles and feet are the next most typical areas. Other joints may also be affected by these cysts.
  • Size and shape. Ganglion cysts are typically spherical or oval and have a diameter of less than an inch (2.5 centimeters). Some can’t even be felt since they are so minuscule. A cyst’s size can change, frequently expanding when you use that joint repeatedly.
  • Pain. Ganglion cysts typically cause no pain. Even if a cyst is too small to form a lump, it can nevertheless push on a nerve and cause pain, tingling, numbness, or other symptoms.


Nobody is quite sure what gives rise to ganglion cysts. It appears to develop when the tissue that surrounds a joint or a tendon bulges out of position. It emerges from the lining of a tendon or joint and resembles a miniature water balloon on a stalk. A thick lubricating fluid that resembles the fluid found in joints or surrounding tendons is present inside the cyst.

The following factors may make you more likely to develop ganglion cysts:

  • Your age and sex. Anyone can develop ganglion cysts, but women between the ages of 20 and 40 are the ones who do so most frequently.
  • Osteoarthritis. The chance of developing ganglion cysts proximal to the finger joints is increased in people who have wear-and-tear arthritis in those joints.
  • Joint or tendon injury. Ganglion cysts are more likely to form on previously injured joints or tendons.