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27th February 2023

Ganglion Cyst on the Foot: Signs, Symptoms, and Treatment

Dr. Jill Barat, PharmD
Ganglion Cyst on the Foot: Signs, Symptoms, and Treatment

Ganglion cysts can be commonly found on the ankle or the top of your feet, and they may be completely painless or mild to moderately painful if they are pushing on a nerve or other parts of your feet.

Oftentimes, these cysts may go away on their own, but if they are causing you significant irritation or pain, you may need to look to the experts to get rid of them.

In this article, we will cover the basics of what foot ganglion cysts are, their causes, symptoms you may be having, and usual treatment options.

What is a Ganglion Cyst on the foot?

A ganglion cyst on the foot happens when the lining of a joint or a tendon bulges out and becomes filled with the same sort of thick fluid that normally cushions and protects joints.

In your feet, that may be found around the ankle joint, or on top of the tendons found at the top of the feet.

These cysts tend to look like a fluid-filled balloon on the end of a stalk created from the bulged-out lining.

Ganglion cysts can range in size from small and barely noticeable, to larger than an inch in diameter.

These cysts may fluctuate in size, often shrinking with rest, or increasing in size with overuse or injury to the area.

What causes Ganglion Cysts on the feet?

Ganglion cysts may occur when there is an acute injury to the area, or even prolonged micro-injuries.

Although, with some cysts, they seem to appear without any direct cause.

Certain risk factors for developing ganglion cysts include:

Age - 20-40

Gender - Female

Arthritis in the area

Prior injury or trauma to the area

Symptoms of a foot Ganglion Cyst

For cysts that do not cause pain, the first symptom may just be noticing a lump around your ankle area, or on the top of your foot.

Symptomatic ganglion cysts may cause:

Pain with activity

Pain when wearing certain shoes

Tenderness around the cyst area

Tingling sensation


Muscle weakness

Loss of mobility

Treatment options for Ganglion Cyst on the foot

Most commonly, cysts tend to go away on their own over time.

So, as long as the cyst is not causing too much discomfort, your doctor may advise a rest-and-wait method.

On occasion, a brace may be used to help prevent movement of the area, or special shoes that do not come into contact with the cyst area may be recommended.

In more severe cases, or with cysts that do not go away, a doctor may make a small incision and drain the fluid out of the cyst area in the office.

Rarely, surgery may be used to completely remove the cyst.

However, it is occasionally possible that the cyst may still return after removal via surgery.

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*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.