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Ganglion Cysts

Ganglion cysts are small, fluid-filled sacs that form over joints or tendons and look like knots under the skin. They are among the most common benign soft-tissue masses, and they usually occur on the top of the foot. They vary in size and may get smaller and larger or disappear completely, only to return later.

What causes a Ganglion Cyst?

The exact cause of ganglion cysts is unknown, but they may arise from trauma — either a single event or a repeated microtrauma.

How do you know you have Ganglion Cyst?

The most common sign is a visible lump, and it’s often the only symptom experienced. However, some people report:

  • Tingling or burning, which happens when the cyst is touching a nerve
  • A dull pain or ache, which indicates the cyst is pressing on a tendon or joint
  • Difficulty wearing shoes due to irritation between the lump and shoe

How does OSI fix Ganglion Cysts?

The board-certified OSI foot and ankle team will examine you for signs and symptoms of a ganglion cyst:

  • Physical exam: Your OSI doctor will perform a careful exam of your foot. Since the lump is visible, your doctor will press on it, and it should move freely beneath the skin. 

Nonsurgical Treatment

Ganglion cysts are harmless, and OSI specialists offer a few treatment options:

  • Monitoring but no treatment. If the cyst doesn’t cause pain or interfere with walking, it might be best to monitor the cyst over time and do nothing for the time being.
  • Changes in footwear. Switch to shoes that don’t rub on the cyst or cause irritation.
  • Aspiration and injection. The fluid can be drained and a steroid medicine injected into the cyst. More than one session may be required, and the cyst may return.

Surgical Treatment

If other treatment options fail or aren’t deemed appropriate by your OSI orthopedic specialist, the ganglion cyst may be surgically removed. This excision involves removing the cyst and part of the involved joint capsule or tendon sheath, which is considered the root of the cyst. The procedure is outpatient, and you’ll be able to go home after a short period of observation.


You may have tenderness, discomfort, and swelling after your OSI surgeon does the ganglion removal procedure. However, you should be able to resume normal activities a few weeks after surgery. Even after excision, there is a small chance the cyst will return.