Treating a Ganglion Cyst with Acupuncture by Anna Hajosi

What are ganglion cysts? 

Ganglion cysts are masses or lumps commonly found in the hands, most frequently developing on the back of the wrist. In most cases, the cysts are not cancerous and are relatively harmless, but if they interfere with function, or have an unacceptable appearance, there are several treatment options available. 

It is not known what triggers their formation. They are most common in younger people between the ages of 15 and 40 years, and women are more likely to be affected than men. These cysts are also common among gymnasts, who repeatedly apply stress to the wrist.

These fluid-filled cysts can quickly appear, disappear, and change size. Most ganglions form a visible lump. Smaller ones can remain hidden under the skin (occult ganglions). Although many ganglions produce no other symptoms, a cyst can put pressure on the nerves passing through the joint, causing pain, tingling, and muscle weakness. Large cysts, even if they are not painful, can be aesthetically unpleasant. 

Conventional Western Treatments: 

Ganglion cysts often do not require invasive treatment, but can be treated non surgically or surgically to ease discomfort. Presently, observation, immobilization, aspiration are all available in addition to surgical excision for treatment.

Can acupuncture help with Ganglion cysts?

In Chinese Medicine, ganglion cysts are linked to stagnation. From this perspective, any accumulation and thickening of fluids in the body points is either due to a local obstruction in the flow of energy, 'Qi' in Chinese Medicine, or to a systemic problem manifesting itself as a number of problems across the body and mind. A skilled practitioner can quickly make this determination and treat accordingly. The greater majority of cases we come across are local problems, often caused by either postural reasons - work stations, frequent use of the joint in a skilled operation or muscular tensions constricting the flow of fluids and blood. Treatment can help to reduce the tension and improve flow as well as help disperse the thickened fluids and reduce the size of the lump. 

Recent Success Case 

A 28-year-old female patient complaining of a ganglion cyst on the back of the right wrist came in for acupuncture to alleviate the resulting discomfort. As an office worker, her primary concerns involved pain and interference with function as well about unpleasant appearance.

 Upon palpation, a hard, soft tissue nodule was found on the back of the wrist. It was painful with pressure but the patient could continue to move her wrist. Initially measuring 1cm by 1 cm, the patient wished to reduce the size of the cyst. 

After I treated the patient for three sessions over a week and a half with high frequency electroacupuncture, the patient reported that the ganglion cyst was no longer present.


Ganglion cysts are the most common soft-tissue tumors found within the hand and wrist region. The origin of ganglion cysts are highly theorized, and include pre-existing intra-articular joint pathology, joint stress leading to degeneration, and joint stress stimulating mucin secretion. 

Following subsequent research, electroacupuncture may serve as a valuable and safe alternative for ganglion cyst treatment.


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