A ganglion cyst is a sensible lump of soft tissue on top of a tendon sheath or joint capsule.
Ganglion cysts are considered the most common benign soft-tissue masses in the body. Although it is more common to occur on the wrist, they also may develop on the foot. Ganglion cysts may vary in size and may disappear completely without any intervention, only to return later.
The exact cause behind the formation of ganglion cyst is unknown. It has been suggested that it may arise from repetitive microtrauma to the joint or tendon. This may lead to herniation of the joint fluid from the joint capsule or from around the tendon sheath forming sacs filled with thick clear jelly like fluid.
A sensible lump under the skin. This might be the only symptom experienced.
Tingling or burning sensation if the cyst is compressing a nerve.
Dull or aching pain whenever the cyst compresses against a tendon or joint.
Difficulty wearing shoes as the lump may rub against the shoe causing irritation.
Your doctor will obtain your medical history and will perform a thorough examination of the foot. The lump can be felt and visualized freely moving underneath the skin. Sometimes an ultrasound probe utilized to confirm the lump is extending from the joint or the tendon and to aid in removing a small amount of fluid from the cyst for evaluation. An x-ray may be ordered in some cases to rule out other traumatic events.
There are various options for treating a ganglion cyst on the foot:
Monitoring. If the cyst is painless and does not interfere with walking, it is best to carefully watch the cyst over a period of time.
Shoe modifications. Wide shoe wear that do not rub the cyst or cause irritation may be advised. Placing a pad inside the shoe can help decrease pressure against the cyst and stop the irritation.
Aspiration. Draining the fluid from the cyst and then injecting a steroid medication into the cyst sack. This approach is successful in some cases, but in many cases the cyst returns.
When conservative treatment options fail or are not applicable, the cyst may need to be surgically removed along with the sack. The recurrence rate associated with surgery is much lower than the conservative treatment options.