Ganglion cyst (knee)


Some readers may remember that in April and then June I posted two (very detailed) descriptions of a right leg ITB problem that refused to respond to the usual treatment. I have since had an MRI and (subject to a CT scan and blood test) the diagnosis seems to be a ganglion cyst on the proximal tibio-fibular joint (just below the normal ITB problem site). Mercifully these things are benign.

I was just wondering if anyone has had any experience with this and if so, whether they had it surgically removed and what the recovery time was like? Any piece of info gratefully received.

Meanwhile... about 4 weeks ago while doing a hamstring curl on the left leg I felt something 'ripple' on the inside of the leg above the knee (MCL area?). It wasn't especially painful but has been a persistent niggle ever since and I am now getting some pain on the lower front right side of the left kneecap, especially when flexing or extending the leg. (Note: I haven't run at all for 3 months). Doc and knee specialist think it's just a muscle strain and will pass but it's been a while and seems worse not better. Again, grateful for any ideas or advice on self-treatment.




  • I had a ganglion thingummy on the tendon on the top of my foot. Got quite worried about it until I found out what it was. The old 'cure' used to be a bible. Banged on the lump from a height, it would burst it (under the skin). I didn't really like the thought of that so just left it, tried not to put too much pressure on it (it had been caused by lacing my shoes tightly, so that the tongue put abnormal pressure on the tendon), and it sort of faded away. Think over about 3 or 4 weeks?

    Surgical removal sounds a bit drastic!
  • I once had a a cyst on the back of my knee when I lived out in Switzerland - men in white coats out there wanted to dive in with their knives to cut it out, so I hopped onto a plane back to my good 'ol NHS GP who said don't let them touch it, knees are funny things to have surgery on unless it's totally necessary & that it'll go away of it's own accord. And guess who was right? It did & quite quickly as I remember (although I don't know if my cyst was anything like yours of course.) You just can't beat the UK NHS peeps.
  • Interesting views on surgery there, but this may change your minds!

    It has been around for over 4 months and the pain has got worse so to be honest if the surgery option is offered to me I will take it. Apparently half of cysts not removed come back, and this has been the most horrible, debilitating thing I've ever had, not just stopping me from running but causing sufficient pain when walking for me to change my gait.

    I would urge anyone with ongoing ITBS, if they have the slightest doubt over diagnosis, to get a scan if at all possible. I'm sure I do have a tight ITB and this did mimic a lot of the typical symptoms. But I've known for a while it was potentially something else, without having the 'courage' to challenge my physio and consultant's approach and demand a look inside.
  • Hi Arron, i'm having the same problem with a ganglion cyst on the proximal tibio-fibular joint. To be confirmed by MRI but i expect to be offered surgery. How did you get on after your surgery, was the recovery time a matter of weeks?

  • I did the book trick with a small one on my hand and it worked. But I'm not sure I'd try the same on a knee.

  • Arron is 200% correct.  I had been experiencing one of the symptoms of a ganglion cyst in my right knee for years; knee clicks.  A year ago I got serious about running.  I picked up my pace and did long runs.  Then came the pain.  I was limping for days after races.  I could hardly bend my knee to go down stairs.

    Like Arron I was diagnosed with ITBS and sent to physical therapy.  My foot also started to hurt so I went to a podiatrist.  He perscribed running orthotics.  Then a friend whose an MD suggested that I stop the "voodoo" and "witchcraft" and get an MRI.

    Diagnosis: ganglion cysts near my ACL & PCL.  I am scheduled for arthropic surgery in 2 weeks.  Complete receover is supposed to be 6 weeks.  But I should be up & walking the day after treatment.

    Hopefully all goes well & I'm running in 6 weeks.

  • Hi Tara, have followed a similar journey before having the MRI which showed two ganglion cycts. Having surgery on 12th March. Will let you know how the recovery goes. Have already resigned myself to just getting round at an easy pace in my favourite 10 mile race in September. Will just be happy to run at any pace, regularly and pain free.

  • Best of luck Mark.  My surgery is the day after yours; March 13. Will your procedure be done arthroscopically? From what I have been told we should be able to start running at a slow pace by the end of April (fingers crossed).

    Please do report on your progress & I'll do the same.

    I'm sure you'll be in good form for your September race.  BTW, I'm in New York City (across The Pond). The last long race I was able to do was The Bronx 10 Miler in September.  Can't wait for surgery and recovery to be over so I hopefully will be pain free and a better runner.


  • As a follow-up, I had arthroscopic surgery to remove ganglion cysts on  March 13.  It turns out I also had a small fraying to my meniscus which was repaired by my surgeon.  She thinks the ganglions were caused by this rupture. 

    So far only negative is it looks like I won't be able to run marathon distances.  Surgeon also saw that my knee cartilage is thin.  Physical therapy commences tomorrow.  I'm hoping to be able to run 4 miles by early May.image


  • Well surgery over with, just at the pain killers and resting my leg phase right now. Looks like the end of April for me also before the slow jogging can begin. I'm using this time to address the issues that have caused many injuries over past 5 years so it could turn out to be a very positive time out. I used to feel frustrated that injuries were preventing me from training for marathon distances, but now feel that shorter races are my strength anyway. With ultra marathons etc. now, distance seems irrelevant. My focus is on how much enjoyment i can get from running, how i can improve my times and race strategies. God luck with your recovery.image

  • Hi Mark, congrats on having the surgery behind you!  I started physical therapy which consisted mostly of regaining range of motion.

    Like yourself, I wish to improve my form. Towards the end of April I will work with physical therapist to do so.

    You made a good point about long distance races getting longer and longer.  I hope to be per"cyst"ent in picking up my pace.  And there's always dualathons image.

    Best of luck back at you.


  • Hi from Australia

    Had a 3cm by 1cm ganglion cyst removed from my knee, general surgery rather than 'scope, due to size of cyst and depth (between fat layer and on edge of tendon).

    Difficult to walk for first three weeks, only started running and sport again after 10 weeks.

    Have lost a range of movement, mainly I think due to tightening of tendons during immobile period. Range is increasing now with time, yoga/sport stretching, and return to running and soccer.

    Docs said 20% chance of return - not sure I'd like to go through the hobble stage again image


  • Baker's Cysts (ganglion cysts) usually develop as the result of an underlying knee injury or condition. Addressing the Baker's Cyst alone won't get rid of it. Aspiration may bring down your Baker's Cyst, but this won't prevent it from coming back. Many common treatments for Baker's Cysts, such as cortisone injections, only address the symptoms. If you want to get rid of your Baker's Cyst for good, you need to heal your underlying knee injury or condition. Cold therapy will help to reduce the size of the cyst but without addressing the knee injury, the cyst will persist and can even grow back after surgical removal.

    I had one on the back of my knee after sustaining a debilitating knee injury.I had no idea what it was at the time, but to help my knee injury heal, I began blood flow stimulation therapy (uses EMR to bring nutrient rich blood to soft tissue) and my cyst began to disappear.

    The cyst is almost always from an underlying injury/condition. Address that, and your cyst will heal.

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