Ganglion Cyst in the Big Toe Joint

A ganglion cyst in the big toe joint as well as anywhere in the foot are a common cause of foot discomfort while wearing a shoe and are extremely disturbing to look at when you first notice them. If you have a big bump on your big toe joint or your foot and you think it is a ganglion cyst- you can try pushing on it hard and seeing if it goes away (this will confirm that it is a ganglion cyst), but even if it is hard it can still be a ganglion cyst. These are usually harmless sacs of fluid, but you should definitely go see a podiatrist to make sure that it is not any type of cancerous mass.





What is a Ganglion Cyst in the Foot and  Great  Toe Joint?

  • The ganglion cyst in the great toe joint is the protrusion of a tendon lubricant known as synovial fluid.
  • One large cyst or many smaller cysts can appear that look like one large lump.
  • This fluid is in a balloon like sac that is normal surrounded on all sides by a joint capsule, but if there is a gap in the joint capsule it leaks out like a balloon that is being squeezed on.
  • This usually forms a small 1-3 cm sac.
  • These ganglion cysts are not harmful, in the big toe joint they can  become very annoying and rub against your socks and shoes, but there is no real danger.
  • Ganglion cysts are very common in the foot, this is a condition that we see very frequently in our office, this is usually something not to be very concerned about.
  • These are not cancerous, but the only way to be 100% sure is to get some imaging and a biopsy of the cyst.
  • Ganglion cysts are also known as bible cysts.
  • They are much more common in women, frequently they can occur between age 20-50 years.



Ganglion Cyst in the Big Toe Joint
A ganglion cyst in the big toe joint can look like a large lump such as the one marked about. In this case the patient had the cyst surgically removed.

Ganglionic Cyst Treatment Guide



Where are ganglion cysts the most common besides the big toe joint?

Ganglion cysts can also be found commonly in:

  • The fingers and the palm of the hand. These are usually small bumps.
  • The finger tip or the tip of the small toes. These can be known as mucocutaneous cysts.
  • Around the back of the knee.
  • Around the ankle.
  • The top of the foot. This can look like a lump or bone spur.


ganglion cyst on ankle
A ganglion cyst can occur on your big toe, your smaller toe, your knuckles, the top of your foot and the ankle.


Ganglion Cyst of the Great Toe Joint Symptoms:

  • Usually but not always painful.
  • Can compress nerves, leading to numbness burning and tingling.
  • Can compress blood vessels.
  • 1-3cm Lump.
  • These lumps can cause joint irritation and pain.
  • Can change in size with motion and time of day.
  • Can be hard or soft.
ganglion cyst on knuckle of toe
ganglion cyst on knuckle of toe can cause severe pain from rubbing against your shoe.


Is a Ganglion Cyst in the Big Toe Joint Dangerous?

  • Ganglionic Cysts are not Dangerous, but they can very easily be mistaken for a dangerous tumor, so always get them checked out!
  • The only way to confirm this is to get imaging such as an ultrasound, an X-ray and potentially an MRI.
  • The only way to know 100% is to get a bone biopsy.
  • Find out more about toe, toenail and foot cancer.
  • They can become very irritating and uncomfortable in your shoes as well. They can also change in size which is very disconcerting!


Ganglion cyst on toe
Ganglion cyst on the toe can be dangerous if it looks as big as this.
Ganglion cyst on toe, knuckle, foot and ankle examination:
  • A physical exam by a podiatrist is the best way to make sure that it actually is a ganglion cyst.
  • The podiatrist will usually try to image the cyst first with an X-ray or possibly even an ultrasound.
  • The podiatrist may take an aspiration of the cyst.
  • Sometimes is there is a concern, a ganglion cyst biopsy may be performed.
  • If there is further concern or worry, an MRI may be orderd to solve this problem.


Ganglion cyst on foot and toe home treatment:
  • In the past these used to be called bible bumps.
  • A bible was used to smash them back into place.
  • This is no longer the way to go.
  • Just go see your podiatrist and be safe!
  • Sometimes the cysts can disappear all by themselves.



Ganglion Cyst Removal in Toe, Knuckle, Foot and Ankle:

Ganglion cysts can also occur in the toe, toe knuckle, foot and ankle.

  • There are many different ways to remove these toe and foot cysts with varying levels of success.
  • Ganglion cysts on the big toe joint, the smaller toes and the foot can disappear all on their own.
  • Given enough time they can disappear, sometimes we even book a patient for surgery and the day of the surgery the cyst is gone!
  • Aspiration can be performed in the offce to drain the cyst.
  • We can also inject a steroid into the joint at the same time for higher rates of relief.
  • The rate of keeping away for good is usually under 50%.
  • But it does make sense to sample the fluid to make sure your ganglion cyst is not something for dangerous.
Ganglion cyst removal surgery after drainage
This is a depressed ganglion cyst after being drained by aspiration.


Ganglion Cyst Foot and Toe Surgery:

Ganglion cyst foot surgery can sometimes be an option if draining it numerous times does not work and it causes constant pain.

  • An incision is usually made directly over the cyst.
  • The cyst is then excised completely with spreading scissors.
  • Electrocautery can then be used to burn the stalk of the cyst as it connects to the joint.
  • Ganglion cyst foot surgery is not perfect, but the rates are about 80-90% success rate over the longer term.
ganglion cyst foot surgery
This is a top of the foot ganglion cyst that could really benefit from ganglion cyst surgery. In a case like this it would make sense if it was already biopsed and aspiration failed.

Ganglion Cyst of the Big Toe Joint Complete Treatment Guide

-Click on the above link for the complete home treatment guide.


Can a ganglion cyst be hard?

A ganglion cyst in the foot and toe is usually hard.
It can usually be mobile, but if not, this really does not mean much.


For more on a Ganglion Cyst in the Big Toe Joint


About the author

The Modern Podiatrist (Foot and Ankle Specialist Doctor):Today's podiatrist is required to undergo rigorous medical training that licenses them as physicians with equivalent legal standing to the MD and DO degree (These are physician recognized licenses most common only in the USA). Although admittedly the training does differ between the three degrees. The differences are listed below.In Michigan Podiatrists are trained and authorized to perform surgery in the foot and ankle up to the tibial tubercle below the knee.All our podiatrists and foot doctors have undergone rigorous training including a 4 undergraduate college degree, writing the medical school entrance exam (MCAT), followed by a 4 year medical school degree (DPM - Doctor of Podiatric Medicine),Once podiatrists in the USA complete the rigorous 4 year medical school courses, they are required to complete a minimum of 3 years of a surgical and non-surgical residency program. Some podiatrists and foot doctors then choose to go on to further fellowship training specializing in various forms of specialty such as diabetic surgery or reconstructive foot and ankle surgery.The training is not over yet! Each podiatrist must be judged by a governing body where they submit their surgical cases and are reviewed regularly to ensure excellent results. This is a career long evaluation with board qualifications and certifications every few years.So have faith that today's podiatrist is your best choice for your foot and ankle problems! We are able to approach you foot and ankle problems from a non-surgery perspective, but that when necessary we can provide you with the treatment that you need!All articles written by this account are considered to be for educational purposes only. It is impossible for us to truly assess your condition and the advice we give here is meant to give you a basis to then follow up with your podiatrist and foot doctor later.If you have any questions at all, or there is anything that we can help you with, please feel free to contact our office or email us. Podiatrists provide medically necessary treatment which should be covered by valid insurance plans, we are not a cosmetic or elective medical specialty.