Ganglion Cyst

Ganglion cysts are noncancerous lumps that most commonly develop along the tendons or joints of your wrists or hands. They also may occur in the ankles and feet. 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. Ganglion cysts can be painful if they press on a nearby nerve. 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:

  • A noticeable lump—often this is the only symptom experienced
  • Tingling or burning, if the cyst is touching a nerve
  • Dull pain or ache, which may indicate the cyst is pressing against a tendon or joint
  • Difficulty wearing shoes due to irritation between the lump and the shoe


Our Approach

To diagnose a ganglion cyst, we will perform a thorough examination of the foot. We may shine a light through the cyst or remove 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, we may suggest draining the cyst with a needle. Removing the cyst surgically also is an option.


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