Ganglion Cyst

What Is A Ganglion Cyst?

A ganglion cyst is a soft fluid-filled sac that appears on or around joints or tendons. The word "ganglion" means "knot" and describes the knot-like swelling that develops beneath the skin surface.

Ganglion cysts are very common non-cancerous soft-tissue masses. These cysts most often affect the wrist but may also develop on the top, or other parts of the foot. Ganglion cysts range in size, can shrink or grow, and might even resolve completely, then return later.

The exact cause of ganglion cysts is unknown, but they might result from a single traumatic event, or from a series of repetitive trauma.


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Bunion SurgeryA ganglion cyst is marked by at least one of the following symptoms:

  • A noticeable knot-like swelling. This is sometimes the only symptom experienced.
  • A tingling or burning sensation if the cyst is touching a nerve.
  • Dull or aching pain -- possibly indicating pressure between the cyst and a joint or tendon.
  • Discomfort when wearing shoes caused by irritation between the cyst and the shoe.

Dr. Radovic will thoroughly examine the foot to diagnose a ganglion cyst. When manipulated properly, the visually apparent swelling should move freely under skin. Dr. Radovic may shine a light through the cyst or extract some fluid for further evaluation. X-rays and other imaging studies may be ordered to aid diagnosis.

These are the non-surgical treatments for a ganglion cyst on the foot:

  • Monitoring. If the knot-like swelling is not accompanied by pain or irritation when walking, Dr. Radovic may forego initial treatment and closely monitor the cyst over a time period.
  • Shoe modifications. Dr. Radovic may recommend shoes that do not contact or irritate the cyst. Padding the shoe can also help reduce pressure and irritation.
  • Aspiration and injection. A needle can be used to drain the fluid and administer a cortisone injection into the mass. Multiple injections may be needed to eliminate the cyst.  This treatment is effective in some cases, but the cyst returns in many others.
  • Surgery may be needed when non-surgical treatments are unsuitable or ineffective. Although surgery is more effective at eliminating the cyst than the aspiration and injection method, there are cases in which the ganglion cyst returns.