Ganglion Cysts

Ganlgion Cyst, University Foot and Ankle institute

Ganglion cysts are benign, fluid-filled masses that typically appear on the top of the foot.

They attach to a tendon or the tissue that surrounds the joints. The term ganglion means, “knot,” which describes these masses underneath the skin.

Though ganglion cysts typically appear in the foot or ankle, they also form around other bones or tendons of the body.


It is critically important to have cysts evaluated by a physician to rule out a more serious medical condition.


UFAI, the Right Choice for Cyst Treatment

The podiatrists at UFAI are proud to offer the latest testing and diagnostic technologies to ensure accurate diagnosis. Our team approaches each treatment in the most non-invasive way possible to get you back on your feet and back to your activities.

Ganglion Cyst symptoms

The development of ganglion cysts may be rapid or slow, forming over several years. They may shrink, enlarge, or even disappear and reappear. Although not generally painful, ganglion cysts may cause symptoms. They can be found in any age group, though women are three times more likely than men to suffer from them.


You will first notice a small lump on your foot. The lump is most-commonly located on the top of the foot, but can be found near any of the foot’s joints or tendons. Additional symptoms may include:

  • Pain or Burning sensation (the cyst is pressing against a nerve, joint or tendon)
  • Limitation of motion (the cyst is pressing against a joint or tendon)
  • Skin irritation above the ganglion
  • Wearing shoes is painful due to the size of the cyst

Ganglion cysts are often painless and harmless, but as with any growth, you should have the mass checked by your physician to rule out more serious issues.



How is a Ganglion Cyst diagnosed?

Your doctor will initially perform a physical exam and ask about the history of the lump. The physician may shine a light through the lump to indicate whether the fluid is liquid or solid.


Additional testing may include analysis of the ganglionic fluid, x-rays or ultrasound to indicate damage to the surrounding area. An MRI also may be ordered.



Treating a Ganglion Cyst

If the ganglion is not causing pain and is relatively small, your doctor will likely take a watch-and-wait approach, asking you to return to the office to monitor the cyst’s condition. If there is pain or limitation of motion or difficulty wearing shoes, immediate treatment may be necessary.


The least-aggressive form of treatment is called aspiration (drainage). The area is numbed with local anesthetic and a large-gauge needle is used to remove the fluid. Often a corticosteroid, and sometimes Hyalauroindase (a dissolving enzyme), is injected to reduce the likelihood of recurrence. While aspiration is quite effective, ganglion cysts often reoccur.


Another approach, depending on the size and location of the cyst, is excision surgery. This procedure is done in one of our offices, or the hospital. Rest and reduction of activities may be required after the procedure.


The excision procedure has a significantly higher success rate than aspiration, although complications such as recurrence, joint stiffness, scar formation, and infection are possible.

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