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What Is a Ganglion Cyst?
A ganglion cyst is a sac filled with a jellylike fluid that originates from a tendon sheath or joint capsule. The word “ganglion” means knot and is used to describe a knot-like mass or lump that forms below the surface of the skin.
Ganglion cysts are among the most common benign soft-tissue masses. Although they most often occur on the wrist, they also frequently develop on the foot—usually on the top. Ganglion cysts vary in size, may get smaller and larger, and may even disappear completely. Ganglion cysts can be unpredictable and difficult to get rid of.
A ganglion cyst is associated with one or more of the following symptoms:
- A noticeable round or ovoid lump—often this is the only symptom experienced
- Tingling or burning, if the cyst is pressing against 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
There are various options for treating a ganglion cyst on the foot:
- Monitoring only. If the cyst causes no pain and does not interfere with walking, the surgeon may decide it is best to carefully watch the cyst over a period of time.
- Shoe modifications. Wearing shoes that do not rub the cyst or cause irritation may be advised. In addition, placing a pad inside the shoe may help reduce pressure against the cyst.
- Aspiration and injection. This technique involves draining the fluid and then injecting a steroid medication into the mass. More than one session may be needed. Although this approach may be successful in some patients, in many others, the cyst returns.