Your Renton and Seattle Area Podiatric Care Center
Valley Foot and Ankle

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Ganglion Cyst

What is a ganglion cyst?

A ganglion cyst is a soft bump on the foot and ankle originating from a tendon sheath or joint. The soft bump is actually a sack containing a jelly like fluid. These cysts typically start as a small bump and will likely increase in size, occasionally they can decrease in size as well and resolve on their own.


  • A soft bump or mobile mass developing on the top of the foot or near one of the toe joints. They can develop in the area of the ankle joint as well.
  • The cyst will typically increase in size over time and feel harder as the fluid becomes more jelly like.
  • The cyst usually becomes painful from the direct pressure of shoes, sandals or even socks.


  • There is no direct cause of a ganglion cyst.
  • They are often the result of repetitive irritation or micro trauma to the affected area.


We use in office diagnostic ultrasound to provide a definitive diagnosis. Sometimes an MRI can be helpful as well, depending on the location of the cyst. Typically an X-ray will show increase in the soft tissues but does not definitively differentiate a ganglion from other soft tissue masses.


  • Typically minimally invasive treatments are performed.
  • In our office we will typically use a needle to drain the cyst under ultrasound guidance and inject the area with a potent steroid to shrink the sheath of the cyst. This is called an aspiration/injection treatment.
  • Compression therapy is applied after the cyst is drained.
  • Surgical management is rarely performed and is reserved for cysts that fail with multiple aspiration/injection treatments.
  • Typically we send the aspirated material from the cyst to a Pathology lab for definitive diagnosis.