What’s This Round Lump on My Foot?

A Ganglion Cyst is a benign growth that arises from a herniated dense connective tissue from tendon sheaths or joint capsules. The cyst is a synovial sac filled with gelatinous fluid and is the most common benign soft tissue mass to occur in the foot, often on the top of the foot. The exact cause of ganglion cysts is unknown, but it is thought to be either from repetitive microtrauma, mucosal degeneration, and/or the union of small cysts due to soft tissue degeneration.

A ganglion cyst can be asymptomatic but can be associated with one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Visible soft tissue lump that is firm, smooth, rounded, rubbery, and may grow other time
  • Skin irritation, tingling or burning sensation especially if the cyst is on a nerve
  • Difficulty wearing shoes
  • Dull or achy pain

Diagnosis of a ganglion cyst is done clinically by shining a light source through the cyst and having it transilluminate. Your podiatrist may also perform an x-ray, ultrasound, MRI, or excise it and send it to pathology. Often it can resolve on it’s own through spontaneous resolution. Some various treatment options that your doctor may recommend are shoe modifications and aspiration by draining the fluid from the cyst but this option has a high recurrence rate. Surgery may also need to be done to surgically remove the cyst. Surgery has a lower recurrence rate than aspiration alone but nonetheless there is still the risk for the ganglion cyst to reoccur especially if the synovial stalk of the cyst was not completely removed.

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