Synovial Cyst


A synovial cyst is a noncancerous fluid-filled cyst located near the lower back. A thin layer of tissue (synovium), which produces a special lubricating fluid, surrounds the joints in the lower back. As joints break down with age, the fluid can accumulate, forming an odontoid synovial cyst.


Depending on where and how big the cyst grows, it may not cause any symptoms or it may cause a painful condition called spinal stenosis.

Symptoms include:
  • Difficulty walking

  • Pain from the lower back that spreads down one or both legs

  • Pain that eases with sitting and worsens with standing


To diagnose a synovial cyst, your doctor may recommend an MRI scan. Often, your symptoms can be managed with over-the-counter pain relievers. Your doctor may also prescribe steroid injections or physical therapy as a first-line treatment.

Services & Treatment

If symptoms are particularly painful or debilitating, your expert team of neurosurgeons may recommend the following:

  • Microsurgical excision to remove the entire cyst
  • Laminectomy (in addition to removal of the cyst), in which a small portion of the vertebrae is removed to ease nerve compression
  • Surgical fusion, which fuses a portion of the spine together to help stabilize the bones

Back & Spine Program at Aurora
Don’t suffer with persistent back pain. There is a treatment option that’s right for you. Give us a call at the Back & Spine Program at Aurora St. Luke’s at 414-649-3300 to make an appointment today.

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