What is a Ganglion Cyst?

As temperatures rise, the shoes come off, and with that people may be more invested in the state of their feet. You may notice a bump on the top of your foot that you don’t remember being there before. Or, you may be noticing that a bump is increasing in size. If the lump is soft and round and located over a joint, it may be a ganglion cyst.  Ganglion cysts are benign, fluid-filled sacs that ordinarily develop over a tendon on a joint. These cysts can develop quickly or over a span of years and fluctuate in size and may or may not be painful.  People may have trouble finding shoes that are comfortable with this condition as the friction from the shoes can irritate the cyst.  If the cyst is overlying a nerve, it can cause burning, tingling, numbness sensations, or pain.

The exact cause of a ganglion cyst is unknown, but there are theories regarding their origin. One such theory is repetitive trauma to a joint or tendon. Trauma may cause the joint tissues to break down, creating small cysts that conglomerate into a larger mass.  Or, a defect in the joint capsule or tendon sheath may allow the tissue to expand outwards.

Conservative treatments for ganglion cysts include observation, shoe gear changes to accommodate the mass, and immobilization. If the mass is not painful and not affecting activity, your health care provider may ask you to monitor the size.  By immobilization with a splint or brace, limiting movement to the area may help cause a reduction in the volume of the cyst.  If the cyst is painful or the size is bothering you, your podiatrist may offer to drain it. Your doctor will numb the area with a local anesthetic and then aspirate the fluid with a needle. Aspiration may be followed up with a steroid injection for pain alleviation. This process may need to be repeated if the mass reoccurs. Surgery may be an option if the drainage is unsuccessful or if the cyst is large to point where it limits activity. The appearance of a new or growing mass may be unnerving. Call your podiatrist today if you have questions or concerns about your ganglion cyst.

Please visit our website for more information or call 614-885-3338 (FEET) to schedule an appointment with us at our Columbus, Gahanna or Dublin, OH office.