You have a Painful Lump on Your Wrist – Now What?

Are you experiencing wrist pain? Do you have any lumps, protrusions, or swelling occurring on or around your wrist? If so, many factors can potentially be at play. And for this reason, visiting a physiotherapy clinic in Calgary can be useful in properly diagnosing your wrist pain.

However, one potential cause for a painful swollen area on the wrist or back of the hand is a ganglion cyst. Keep reading to learn more about this lump variation as well as what you can do about it.

What is a Ganglion Cyst?

Essentially, a ganglion cyst is a small pocket over a joint or tendon (tissue connecting muscle to bone) where fluid has built up. Most often, this happens on the back of the wrist, although it can happen on the palm side of the wrist as well.

Since it is fluid-filled, the lump is soft and squishable but you won’t be able to move it around. It may even change in size (often increasing after activity), or disappear completely for a period of time. There are frequently no symptoms besides the presence of the lump.

However, that’s not to say that a ganglion cyst is nothing to be concerned about. In fact, some cases can be very painful. Moreover, you may even notice a loss of hand strength or hand control if the cyst lies over the top of a tendon or nerve.

The exact cause of a ganglion cyst is unknown; it can be present after the trauma but most often it will appear with no obvious cause. Consequently, this makes prevention quite difficult.

What can you do about it?

Many ganglion cysts will disappear on their own with time. However, some don’t, and even if they do disappear, they often return. A physical therapist is a great resource to seek out if you believe you may have a ganglion cyst that is painful or limiting your function.

They will be able to rule out any other causes for your wrist pain, as well as assist you in decreasing your pain and improving your wrist function. The majority of cases will be resolved with this approach, however, if it is unsuccessful, your physical therapist can refer you to a surgeon who may aspirate (drain) the cyst with a needle or do a surgical removal.

*It should be noted that the traditional treatment approach of hitting the wrist with a heavy textbook is not supported by research and is not recommended by medical professionals, as it may cause further damage to the surrounding structures.

Final Thoughts

Whether the pain and/or protrusion in your wrist is that of a ganglion cyst or something else, speak with a professional. To properly treat such conditions, it’s paramount to get the opinion and diagnosis from a medical expert.

For this reason, we here at Panther Sports Medicine house accredited professional physiotherapists who can confirm and properly diagnose your condition – whatever it happens to be. Get in contact with us today to learn more.


Nahra, M. E., & Bucchieri, J. S. (2004). Ganglion cysts and other tumour-related conditions of the hand and wrist. Hand Clinics, 20(3), 249–260. doi: 10.1016/j.hcl.2004.03.015
Suen, M., Fung, B., & Lung, C. P. (2013). Treatment of Ganglion Cysts. ISRN Orthopedics, 1–7.

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Panther Sports Medicine has been serving Calgary for over 30 years!  We offer comprehensive physiotherapy and professional rehabilitation services. Our staff is highly trained in the latest and most effective treatment options. With a wide variety of services and skills, we will get you back to your normal life as soon as possible.
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Panther Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation Centres are a network of ten clinics, physiotherapist operated, serving Calgary and surrounding areas. Our team offers a wide range of services including physiotherapy, massage therapy, and sports injury rehabilitation to help our clients reduce pain and recover from injuries. Panther Sports Medicine has been proudly serving our community for over 30 years.
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