Ganglion cysts form along the wrist tendons and are generally oval or round lumps under the skin, according to Mayo Clinic. Some are so small they cannot be seen, but most range from the size of a pea up to 1 inch in diameter. The cyst changes size depending on the amount of repetitive motion by the wrist.
While most ganglion cysts are painless, if they press on a nerve, they result in tingling, numbness, pain or muscular weakness, even if they are so small they are not visible, indicates Mayo Clinic. A doctor may recommend a wait-and-see approach or wearing a brace to immobilize the wrist before any invasive procedures. Over-the-counter pain medications help to relieve minor pain from the cyst, but patients should not try to break or lance the cyst themselves due to the risk of infection. If the cyst is painful, the medical provider may use needle aspiration to remove the fluid from the inside or surgery to remove the cyst sac.
Doctors sometimes diagnose ganglion cysts by shining a light through the fluid-filled center, explains Mayo Clinic. They use diagnostic imaging scans for diagnosis and to find cysts that are too small to be visible through the skin. Needle aspiration is also used to confirm that the growth is a ganglion cyst.