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What is a Ganglion of the Foot and Ankle?

A ganglion is a round, sac-like swelling or a fluid-filled lump under the skin near your foot and ankle joint. It can become bigger or smaller over time and may be visible or not, especially if it is small.

What are Soft Tissue Tumors of the Foot and Ankle?

Soft tissue tumors are lumps beneath the skin of your foot and ankle that occur due to the overgrowth of tissue (fat cells) within or between the muscles, tendons, nerves or blood vessels.

Causes of the Conditions


Though the cause of ganglions is often unknown, a ganglion occurs when fluid accumulates around the tendons or joints of your foot and ankle due to:

  • Injury
  • Trauma
  • Overuse

Soft Tissue Tumors:

Genetic conditions are believed to be responsible for soft tissue tumors, although the exact reason is yet to be ascertained.

Signs and Symptoms of the Conditions


  • A lump with usually dull pain
  • Discomfort when walking or wearing shoes
  • Numbness or tingling sensation (if it is near a nerve)

Soft Tissue Tumors:

A painless lump that becomes sore as the tumor grows and begins to press against nearby nerves and muscles.

What if the Conditions are Left Untreated?

If not treated, ganglions may cause discomfort and reduced mobility, while tumors can put pressure on surrounding muscles, nerves, blood vessels and even bones.

How are the Conditions Diagnosed?


  • Physical examination
  • Evaluation of medical history
  • Tumor fluid test, biopsy
  • Imaging tests (X-ray, ultrasound or MRI)

Soft Tissue Tumors:

Powerful imaging techniques such as MRI is typically used to diagnose and pinpoint the location of soft tissue tumors.

Treatment of the Conditions


If the ganglion is not causing pain or discomfort, treatment is not required. It may often go away without treatment. If it is causing pain or limiting your mobility, your doctor may:

  • Ask you to wear modified shoes or place a pad inside the shoe
  • Drain the fluid out with a syringe and inject a steroid
  • Surgically remove the ganglion (if the above options do not yield results)

Soft Tissue Tumors:

Painful and bulging soft tissue tumors may have to be treated with surgery where the lumps are cut and removed (excision).

  • American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
  • Arthroscopy Association of North America
  • American Orthopaedic Association
  • South Carolina Orthopedic Association