Paralabral Cyst

Facts about a Paralabral Cyst

A paralabral cyst can occur just about anywhere on any joint where there is a labrum. The labrum is a ring of cartilage that surrounds a ball and socket joint. You often hear of baseball players tearing their labrums, usually in the hip or shoulder. There are three types of paralabral cysts: pseudo cysts, synovial cysts and ganglion cysts.


The most common kind of paralabral cyst is the ganglion. The ganglion cyst is a tumor that grows on a joint or on a tendon. Like all cysts, it is a small sac filled with fluid. This one has thick fluid which looks like jelly but is clear. Some of these cysts can feel very hard while others are soft and rubbery.

You can have one paralabral cyst or you can have several smaller cysts together in a group, which to the naked eye, look like one cyst. Ganglion cysts are not usually harmful. They are most often seen in people who are between 20 and 40 years of age.


Other places that you can have a paralabral cyst in on your hand, finger, ankle, knee, and foot. They are around half an inch to an inch and a half long. People often worry about these cysts because they change sizes from small to large and vice versa. They also come and go, disappearing for a time, only to come back.

These types of changes are disconcerting to people because one of the signs of cancer is a mole that changes in size or a lump which you can feel. So some people get very concerned with this cyst, even though it is harmless. No one knows why a paralabral cyst occurs in the first place through, of course, scientists theorize about it. Some say the cyst appears after a trauma to the joint but more people think that there is an imperfection in joint capsule or to the tendon and because of that the tissue bulges out, much like a hernia.

Unfortunately, a paralabral cyst can be very painful. If it was caused by trauma to the joint, the pain can be sharp, but it is most often a dull, aching pain that goes on and on non-stop. Depending on where the cyst is located in relation to the joint, there can be some weakness in the area of the joint.

If you suspect that you have a paralabral cyst, you should see your doctor or an orthopedist to get a definite diagnosis. They can often give you the diagnosis with just a physical exam but some doctors will order an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) just to be safe.

As for treatment, some doctors will advise just leaving it alone and waiting for it to disappear. Others will want to burst the cyst and let it drain out. After that they will inject a steroid directly into the cyst and then wrap it up and put it in a splint to protect it until the area has healed.

If there is a blood vessel involved you could be referred to a surgeon, but this would be very rare. Surgery would also be necessary if the paralabral cyst was located in a place where it interfered with movement.

If you have a paralabral cyst and you are worried about it, definitely see your doctor for a medical evaluation. People who have it drained have an 85% chance of having it disappear completely. Plus, it would mean no more pain during the times when the cyst is present. Chances are your doctor will not prescribe anything for the pain but advise taking NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), such as ibuprofen, which can be purchased over-the-counter.