Soft tissue lumps in the foot and ankle are not uncommon. They may appear as innocuous soft tissue masses which can cause pain and discomfort. There are a few causes of lumps and bumps on the foot. Some of these are just normal anatomy; others are due to abnormal processes.
They can occur anywhere on the foot and can be caused by soft-tissue swelling, sacs of fluid, fatty tissue and nerve, vessel or muscle enlargements. Foot lumps may be without pain (asymptomatic), or they can cause pain and affect the function of the foot.
Soft Tissue Masses
Patients often request an opinion on bony and soft tissue masses that have formed on their feet. In some instances they are due to a cyst or ganglion that can be drained or excised under local anaesthetic. In other cases, there is an underlying bony abnormality which requires reduction or removal.
Corns and Bursa
Corns are areas of hard skin caused by prominent bony lumps and bumps in the foot, often in association with claw and hammer toe deformities. In most cases corns can be permanently removed with excellent cosmetic results. Surgery for corns often involves the removal of small sections of bone under local anaesthetic.
Many patients confuse corns for bursa. The two look similar but a bursa forms under the skin as a small protective sac which can become inflamed and painful, wheras a corn consists of a focal area of painful hard skin. In either case the problem is treated in a similar way.