What Is A Ganglion Cyst?

A ganglion cyst is non-cancerous, fluid-filled lump found under the skin. They form on the joints and tendons of the ankles and the feet. While ganglion cysts are normally painless, the location of the cyst can cause discomfort and require treatment.

Ganglion cysts are usually small and rise above the joint on a pedicule or “stalk”. They are usually round and feel rubbery, soft or firm to the touch with no skin discoloration. There is no consistency in how fast they grow, some are gradual and some appear quickly.


  • Women aged 20-40 have the most occurrences
  • People with previous joint or tendon injuries tend to develop ganglio cysts

Occult ganglions are difficult to diagnose without the use of a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) test. These painful, hidden cysts are small and do not present with the same swelling, so they are difficult to identify and diagnose without imaging.

How Are Ganglion Cysts Treated?

Your Ryan Foot and Ankle podiatrist will examine the cyst to rule out other foot and ankle conditions. Almost half of ganglion cysts will go away on their own. If the cyst is not causing any discomfort or decreased range of motion, your podiatrist may monitor the cyst for a period of time before initiating treatment.

If you are experiencing decreased range of motion or discomfort, treatment options include:

  • Splinting the affected area. Using the affected joint often results in swelling of the ganglion cyst. This treatment protect the to allow the swelling to subside.
  • Your podiatrist may recommend the use of anti-inflammatory medications.
  • Aspiration. The most common non-surgical treatment for ganglion cysts is aspiration. When a cyst is aspirated, a hole is made in the cyst and the fluid is sucked out. This method does not remove the entire cyst, just its contents. Aspiration can provide immediate relief to the discomfort caused by ganglion cysts. However, because this method does not remove the entire cyst, it is common for ganglion cysts to return.
  • The most effective treatment for ganglion cysts is surgery.

What to Expect If Surgery Is Recommended?

If your Ryan Foot and Ankle Clinic doctor recommends surgical removal of the ganglion cyst, the ganglionectomy is usually done on an outpatient basis. The surgical procedure removes the entire cyst, including the stalk, so the likelihood of recurrence is minimal. The surgery site may be swollen and tender as it heals. Full recovery is common and takes from two to six weeks after surgery.

If you are experiencing pain or discomfort from a ganglion cyst, give us a call at one of our 5 local podiatry offices in Charlotte, Concord and Harrisburg today for more information or to schedule an appointment.