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Ganglions in Children: Care Instructions

Picture of dorsal wrist ganglion


A ganglion is a small sac, or cyst, filled with a clear fluid that is like jelly. A ganglion may look like a bump on the hand or wrist. It also can appear on the feet, ankles, knees, or shoulders. It is not cancer. A ganglion can grow out of the protective area, or capsule, around a joint. It also can grow on a tendon sheath, which covers the rope-like tendons that connect muscle to bone. A ganglion may hurt or cause numbness if it presses on a nerve.

Many ganglions do not need treatment, and they often go away on their own. But if a ganglion hurts, causes numbness, or limits activity, the doctor may want to drain it with a needle and syringe or remove it with minor surgery.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your child at home?

  • Have your child wear a wrist or finger splint as directed by the doctor. It will keep the wrist or hand from moving and help reduce the fluid in the cyst. This may be all your child needs for the ganglion to shrink and go away.
  • Do not smash a ganglion with a book or other heavy object. You may break a bone or otherwise injure your child's wrist by trying this folk remedy, and the ganglion may return anyway.
  • Do not try to drain the fluid by poking the ganglion with a pin or any other sharp object. You could cause an infection.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor or nurse advice line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your child has signs of infection, such as:
    • Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness.
    • Red streaks leading from the cyst.
    • Pus draining from the cyst.
    • A fever.

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if:

  • Your child has increasing pain.
  • Your child's ganglion is getting larger.
  • Your child still has pain or numbness from a ganglion.

Where can you learn more?

Go to

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.