A ganglion cyst is a noncancerous lump caused by a small sac of fluid forming over a joint or tendon. They can be painful if they press on a nearby nerve.
Ganglion cysts are typically round or oval and are filled with a jellylike fluid. Small ganglion cysts can be pea-sized, while larger ones can be around an inch in diameter. Their location can sometimes interfere with joint movement. If you have no symptoms, no treatment is necessary. In many cases, the cysts go away on their own.
Although the exact cause of ganglion cysts is unknown, they may arise from trauma. It grows out of a joint or the lining of a tendon, looking like a tiny water balloon on a stalk, and seems to occur when the tissue that surrounds a joint or a tendon bulges out of place. Inside the cyst is a thick lubricating fluid similar to that found in joints or around tendons.
A ganglion cyst is associated with one or more of the following symptoms:
To diagnose a ganglion cyst, your doctor will perform a thorough examination of the foot. This may consist of shining a light through the cyst or removing a small amount of fluid from the cyst for evaluation. In some cases, X-rays and additional imaging studies may be performed.
If your ganglion cyst is causing you problems, your doctor may suggest draining the cyst with a needle. Removing the cyst surgically also is an option.
Ganglion Cyst Resection
The initial treatment of a ganglion is not surgical, but if pain becomes a problem, your foot and ankle orthopedic surgeon may recommend aspiration, a procedure to remove the cyst’s fluid through a needle.