Types of Cysts/Masses That Are Commonly Found in Hand

Cysts are common and can occur anywhere in the body and in people of any age. Sometimes they may be felt as an abnormal or new lump or bump and they vary in size, from microscopic to very large. Cysts usually are filled with air or other gases, liquids such as pus, or semisolid substances like tissue debris or other materials. They are usually benign, but some cysts can be cancerous or precancerous.

Types of Cysts/Masses

Ganglion cyst

Ganglion cysts are some of the most common benign (noncancerous) masses that develop in the body’s soft tissues. A ganglion is a transilluminate cyst that is a round, fluid-filled lump of tissue that usually appears along tendons or joints. It typically occurs on the wrist or hand, but it can also appear on the ankle or foot. They are usually oval or round and usually measure less than an inch (2.5 centimeters) in diameter. These are filled with a thick, sticky, clear, colorless, jelly-like fluid material. Depending on the size, cysts may feel firm or spongy.

Giant Cell Tumor on Hand

Giant cell tumor of the tendon sheath is the most common form of giant cell tumor and is the second most common soft tissue tumor of the hand region after ganglion cyst. These are firm nodular mass that does not transilluminate.

Retinacular Cyst

Retinacular cysts are a type of small ganglion cyst found on the palm or base of the finger. They can be associated with underlying tendonitis or trigger finger. These noncancerous, fluid-filled lumps are typically the size of a pea and the size of a cyst can fluctuate, increasing in size when the joint is used for repetitive motions.

Digital Mucus Cyst

Digital mucus cysts are firm sacs that occur near the joints of the fingers or toes. They also develop away from the joint, such as near the base of a fingernail or toenail. The cyst appears shiny and smooth and may show some redness. The size of the cyst ranges from 5 millimeters to 1 centimeter across. They can be round or oval bumps and can be firm or filled with a jelly-like, sticky fluid. Generally, these tumors are not painful, but larger lesions may be painful to touch.

Wart/Verruca Vulgaris

Warts are technically called verruca vulgaris. These are bumps on the skin and may feel rough to the touch. Warts are due to infection by the human papillomavirus (HPV), a double-stranded DNA virus. They appear papillomatous and hyperkeratotic surfaces, ranging in size from 1 millimeter to 1 centimeter or more. They may be solitary or multiple. They are contagious through skin contact and by damp towels or wet floors in showers and changing rooms.


Although most of the cysts or masses are harmless and not painful, it is important to get them diagnosed properly, particularly, if they are painful and increase in size with usage. So, get them diagnosed with an orthopedic hand specialist and get them treated as early as possible to avoid pain and complications down the road.

Carolina Regional Orthopaedics

Carolina Regional Orthopaedics provides the most effective, modern, and innovative techniques in both Orthopedic Surgery and Pain Management using proven methodologies in both the surgical and non-surgical treatment of all conditions affecting the spine, upper extremities, and lower extremities. We specialize in hand and wrist surgery, joint replacements, sports medicine, trauma care, pediatric orthopedics, pain management, wound care, regenerative medicine, physical therapy, imaging services, and EMG testing.