A cyst is an enclosed cavity or sac of tissue that is lined by
tissue called epithelium. These generally contain either fluid or
viscous (semi fluid) liquid and can occur anywhere on the body and
in many sites on the foot.
What causes a cyst?
Although trauma can predispose to cyst formation (in the foot
this can be due to shoe irritation), they can occur for no specific
Do they get worse?
Although they can slowly increase in size, they can also remain
static causing no problem.
What are the common symptoms?
- Prominence / swelling (which is often soft and mobile /
- Difficulty in shoes
- May vary in size
How is it recognised?
Clinical examination and a detailed history allow diagnosis.
X-rays or more specialist scans are sometimes required to help
evaluate the extent of the cyst.
What can I do to reduce the pain?
- Wear good fitting shoes
- Avoid high heels
- Wear a protective pad
- See a podiatrist
What will a podiatrist do?
If simple measures do not reduce your symptoms, there are other
- Advise appropriate shoes
- Consider draining the cyst
- Advise on surgery
Will this cure the problem?
Draining the lesion may resolve the problem although recurrence
What will happen if I leave this alone?
The cyst may remain static or it may get bigger.
How can I get rid of the cyst?
Surgical excision is usually required to resolve the
I have heard it is very painful.
The nature of surgery means that there will be pain and
swelling, usually worse the night after surgery. However, with
modern anaesthetic techniques and pain killers, this can be well
controlled. The level of pain experienced varies greatly from
patient to patient with some experiencing no significant
Will I have to have a general anaesthetic (be asleep)?
Not if you did not want one. Many of these procedures are
performed perfectly safely under local anaesthetic (you are awake).
Some patients worry that they may feel pain during the operation
but it would not be possible to perform the operation if this were
Will I have to stay in hospital?
No. As long as you were medically fit and have adequate home
support, many patients are able to have this type of operation
performed as day surgery and go home.
Will I have to have a plaster cast?
This generally not necessary although some protection in the
early stages may be necessary for larger cysts or cysts underneath
Are there a lot of complications?
There are risks and complications with all operations and these
should be discussed in detail with your specialist. The specific
complications will depend on the nature and location of the cyst. A
thorough examination of your foot is important so that these
complications can be minimised.
When will I be able to walk again and wear shoes?
In the majority of cases, you will able to walk with the aid of
crutches within 2-4 days but you will remain somewhat limited for
the first 2 weeks. If you need a cast or the wound is on the sole
of the foot, you may not be able to walk on the foot for up to 3
Some patients are able to return to wider shoes within two weeks
with 60% of patients in shoes at 6 weeks and 90% in 8 weeks.
Generally, patients are mobile quite quickly after cyst excision
but this does depend upon the nature and site of the cyst.
When will I be able to drive again?
When you feel able to perform an emergency stop. You should
always check with your insurance company first.
When will I be able to return to work?
This will usually be quite quickly but it will depend upon the
nature and site of the cyst.
When will I be able to return to sport?
This will usually be quite quickly but, again, it will depend
upon the nature and site of the cyst.