Synovial Cysts On Your Foot: A Guide

Synovial cysts are fluid-filled lumps that form on the top of your foot. They feel squishy to the touch, and they can get a little sore after you press on them or after your shoe puts pressure on them all day. People are often very alarmed when synovial cysts first form, but in reality, these cysts are pretty benign. That does not mean, though, that they do not need treatment. You should visit a podiatrist if you have a synovial cyst on the top of your foot. After confirming your diagnosis and making sure nothing more sinister is going on, they're likely to recommend one or more of the following treatments.

Fluid Removal

The lump you're feeling is basically a pocket of synovial fluid, the fluid that is meant to lubricate your joints. The lump probably originated after you injured a tendon or joint, causing some fluid to leak into the surrounding tissues. Usually, the injury that causes the cyst to form is pretty minor and may not even be something you remember dealing with. But the lump itself will linger for months or years if left to its own devices.

So, for faster relief, your podiatrist is likely to use a needle to extract most of the fluid from the cyst. They may apply a topical anesthetic first to dull the pain. Then, they will use a needle to draw the fluid out of the cyst. Your foot may be wrapped after this treatment, but you should be able to remove the bandage within a day or two.

If your synovial cyst is small, your doctor may not drain it, but larger cysts and those that are directly interfering with your comfort typically need to be drained.


Whether or not your cyst is drained, your podiatrist will likely advise you to ice it daily for at least a week, if not longer. The ice will relieve inflammation in the tissues surrounding the cyst, which should ease your pain. It will also help keep the cyst from growing any larger and may help start the shrinking process. 


Finally, your podiatrist should prescribe some orthotics for you to wear inside your shoes. These orthotics should take pressure off the top of your foot, which will alleviate pain from your cyst and also help keep the cyst from getting worse. You should wear these every day to promote healing.

In rare cases, surgery may be needed if your cyst re-grows after the fluid is extracted from it and after you use ice and orthotics. However, there's a very good chance you will heal without the need for surgery. Rely on your podiatrist to guide your healing process and care.