Ganglion Cysts

A ganglion cyst is a very common condition in the foot and ankle.

Symptoms of ganglion cyst is a fluid filled sac like structure beneath the skin. It is usually compressable and slightly mobile, although some may tend to be fairly firm and nodular. The cyst may seem to come and go as it fills with fluid and then is dispersed at times and may continue to “grow” larger. It can be located at almost any location, but more common along the outside of the ankle and foot, and is usually along a tendon, nerve sheath, or at a joint. There is usually little pain associated with it, unless a nerve is compressed or other shoe irritation is seen.

Causes of a ganglion cyst are not completely known, although seem to be involved with some kind of traumatic event, including simple repetitive motions or friction. The cyst either comes from a joint, filled with synovial joint fluid, or from a tendon or nerve sheath.

Diagnosis is first and mainly by clinical suspicion of symptoms. An aspiration of the cyst using a small needle is sometimes used to evaluate the fluid. Other soft tissue tumors may appear like a ganglion cyst. Please consult your podiatrist if you notice any new “mass” on your foot and ankle.

Podiatric Care may include using other anti-inflammatory oral medications or an injection of medication and local anesthetic to reduce this swelling in the ganglionic sac. An injection may be used for both aspiration of the fluid for diagnosis and for treatment. Simple padding or shoewear modification to remove pressure from the area of the cyst maybe the simplest form of treatment when the ganglion is small.

Surgery is occasionaly performed to remove a ganglion cyst. For cysts that recur after conservative treatments, or cyst in areas that are irritating due to shoewear and impending nerve structures, surgery is more common. The procedure is straightforward, as the cyst is identified and surgically removed. It is not uncommon for a ganglion cyst to reform in the same area even after surgery.