What You Should Know About Foot Cysts

You’ve probably heard of the word “cyst” before but may not know what it means. The good news is that having one on your feet is usually nothing to be afraid of. The fluid-filled mass is not cancerous and may go away on its own if it’s not painful or big. However, we know that cysts can be tricky when they’re on the foot. You need be able to walk and go about your daily routine without pain or problems or else you should come in and see us. If you need treatment or are unsure of what to do, please read on to learn more about this issue.

Ganglion Cysts

A ganglion cyst forms from the tendon sheath, and is the most common soft-tissue cyst to appear in the foot. Contained in the lump is a fluid sac—jellylike in nature. It usually forms on the top of the foot but can occur elsewhere.

Epidermoid Cysts

These develop mostly due to a buildup in epidermal cells. They occur most commonly in the hair-producing parts of the body, which includes the big toe.

Synovial Cysts

This type always involves the joint, whereas the ganglion type do not always continue through the joint capsule. It happens when the synovial membrane herniates, and it is most likely present when joint diseases are also present, including rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, and post-injury joint problems.


Trauma to the area can cause a joint capsule to protrude and fill with fluid. The injury can happen suddenly, by bumping the top of your foot on something, or slowly, with repeated trauma to the area.


Sometimes a lump is the only noticeable symptom of this condition. If the lump is bigger, you may have problems fitting your foot into a shoe. Tingling or burning can indicate that your lump is irritating a nerve nearby. Lastly, you could also experience a painful, aching sensation.


When you visit Sierra Foot & Ankle, we will need to determine if the cyst is more associated with the tendon sheath or the joint. We can do this by taking an X-ray, pressing on the area, shining a light to penetrate through the membrane, and taking a sample of the fluid. This knowledge will allow us to treat your problem and help you recover more effectively.

Sometimes, the problem will go away on its own. We may suggest that you buy a pair of shoes to accommodate the capsule. We will always ask you to watch the cyst over time and make an appointment if it becomes painful or grows larger than you can handle. Another method will involve draining the fluid or possibly injecting a steroid into the area.

Some of these lumps in the soft tissue are removed with a simple surgery. During the procedure, the mass will be dissected and excised from the soft tissue it is surrounding.

While you’re recovering, your doctor may have you wear a cast or splint or walk on crutches for a few weeks. This is to ensure that the area heals correctly, since your skin might be very susceptible to infection if the wound is irritated.

There isn’t a clear cut way to prevent a cyst, but we recommend that early treatment and diagnosis can prevent surgery and more invasive methods of getting rid of your problem. We encourage you to make an appointment with Sierra Foot & Ankle at (775) 783-8037 at the first signs of this problem. You can also check out our office in Carson City, Nevada on Pinterest and Twitter!