Bone cyst

Bone cysts are fluid-filled holes that form in bones. They mainly affect children and teenagers. They're not usually serious, but they sometimes need to be treated with surgery.

Bone cysts are not always treated

A bone cyst may not need treatment if it's small and not causing any problems.

They often get better on their own, especially in children and teenagers.

You may have regular X-rays for a few years to check your bone is healing and the cyst is not getting bigger.

Treatments for bone cysts

A bone cyst might need to be treated if it's:

The main treatments are:

Treatment is done under general anaesthetic. You will not usually need to stay in hospital overnight.

Recovering after treatment

It normally takes at least a few months for the bone to heal.

You may need to avoid activities or sports that could damage the bone until it has healed.

You'll have regular X-rays for a few years to check it's getting better.

Non-urgent advice: See a GP if:

  • you get a lump, pain or swelling after treatment

This could mean the cyst has come back or you've developed an infection from surgery.

It's quite common for bone cysts to come back, especially in the first couple of years after treatment.

Causes of bone cysts

The exact cause of bone cysts is unknown. They're not cancer and do not spread to other parts of the body.

The main types of cyst are thought to have different causes:

Page last reviewed: 13 October 2020
Next review due: 13 October 2023