A ganglion cyst is a benign growth. It is a fluid-filled, soft tissue mass that attaches itself to a joint capsule or tendon sheath. These types of cysts most commonly occur on the wrist, but they can also grow on the foot. Although the appearance of a ganglion cyst may be startling and a bit unnerving, this type of cyst is not dangerous or cancerous.
In this article you will also learn?
- What is a ganglion cyst in the foot?
- What causes a ganglion cyst on top of foot?
- Is a ganglion cyst dangerous?
- Can ganglion cysts get worse?
- Do ganglion cysts go away on their own?
Read on to learn more.
How does a ganglion cyst look like?
Ganglion cysts have an irregular, asymmetrical appearance. The cyst is a mobile mass located beneath the skin. It looks like a knot, and in fact that is the meaning of the word “ganglion”. The fluid inside of the cyst is jellylike, clear, sticky and thick. It is like the synovial fluid that serves the purpose of lubricating tendons and joints.
It’s hard to predict the growth pattern of these cysts, because it can take years to develop a ganglion cyst, but it is also possible for them to appear seemingly overnight. Once there, they may alter in size and appearance. A ganglion cyst on your foot may grow larger or smaller or even disappear entirely.
Generally speaking this type of cyst will disappear on its own after a couple of years. If you can tolerate the odd appearance, you can take heart in the knowledge that you will not suffer pain from the cyst itself, but if the growth is close to joints and tendons the pressure may create further foot problems.
What causes ganglion cysts?
The cause of ganglion cysts is a mystery, but most experts believe that injury may be a precursor to the development of this type of cyst. The trauma may be from a single injury or from repetitious motion and/or chronic overuse.
Injury and trauma often result in inflammation of the surrounding connective tissues. It is believed that these tissues may liquefy or degenerate to become ganglionic jelly. When this happens, it is thought that the connective tissue that remains creates a cystic covering that encloses these fluids. This results in the development of a ganglion cyst.
Oddly, women are far more likely to develop ganglion cysts than men. In fact, they have three times a greater chance of developing this type of cyst. Ganglion cysts can occur at any age.
What are the symptoms of a ganglion cyst?
The most obvious symptom of this type of cyst is the fact that you will develop a lump on your foot or your wrist. If your cyst is on your foot, it will probably be on the top; however, it could be near a tendon or a joint. The size of the lump may vary, and it may be accompanied by symptoms such as:
- Burning or painful sensations that indicates that the cyst is causing pressure on a nerve, joint or tendon
- A limit in your range of motion which may also indicate that the cyst is interfering with tendon or joint movement
- The skin over the surface of the cyst may become irritated.
- A large cyst may make it difficult or painful to wear shoes.
In many cases, ganglion cysts are somewhat unsightly but painless. Still, you should not let yourself fall into a false sense of well-being if this is the case with you. While the cyst itself may not actually pose a problem, complications surrounding it can. Pressure on tendons, nerves and joints can cause problems with gait as well as chronic pain.
Even if your ganglion cyst does not hurt, you should have your doctor look at it to make a definite diagnosis.
What will happen when I visit the doctor?
When you go to the doctor to get a solid diagnosis of your ganglion cyst, your medical professional will perform a complete physical, get a medical history and ask you specific questions about the development of the growth.
Your doctor will examine the cyst and may perform a few tests such as shining a light through the growth to determine whether or not the fluid is solid or liquid. Your doctor may also order some other testing to determine the exact nature of the ganglionic fluid. These may include:
These tests will help your doctor understand the situation surrounding the cyst. He or she will be able to determine the condition of the bones, joints and tendons of your foot. Once all questioning and testing is completed, you and your doctor can work together to create a treatment plan.
Can I get rid of a ganglion cyst on my own?
Just as with any other malady, you can find all manner of odd home remedies that claim to cure a ganglion cyst. The truth is, these have little or no effect on these growths.
In fact, many of them are dangerous and detrimental. For example, one common home remedy is dubbed “Bible therapy”. This involves smashing the cyst with a heavy object such as a Bible. This is a a very bad idea for a number of obvious reasons.
How will my doctor treat my ganglion cyst?
Much will depend upon the type of symptoms you are exhibiting. If you are experiencing limited range of motion, pain and/or difficulty wearing your shoes, your doctor will surely recommend a more aggressive treatment. If your cyst is small and/or does not hurt, your doctor may simply suggest watching it to see what develops.
With the passage of time, your cyst my resolve itself. If not, there are two standard methods of treatment: aspiration and excision.
Drainage or aspiration of the cyst is simple and easy and can be done in the doctor’s office. If your doctor decides to go with this treatment, the area surrounding the cyst will be numbed using a local anesthetic. Following this, your doctor or nurse will use a large gauge needle and syringe to drain the fluid from the cyst.
Following this treatment, your doctor may inject Hyalauroindase, which is a dissolving enzyme to help resolve the problem. Additionally, corticosteroid may be injected into the site to help reduce inflammation.
After aspiration of the cyst, you will experience immediate relief; however, you should know that there’s a good chance the cyst will return eventually. In fact, when you have the fluid aspirated from a ganglion cyst, you the 50 to 70 percent chance of a recurrence. If this happens, your doctor may recommend having the cyst surgically removed.
Naturally, a surgical procedure is a bit more complex than simple aspiration of the cyst. For surgical removal, you will need to go to the hospital, and the procedure will be conducted using a local anesthetic.
Are there any dangers associated with ganglion cyst removal?
If your cyst is pressing against the inside of your shoe and becomes irritated, it can become infected. Likewise, if you do not take care of your cyst following surgery, it can become infected. This can lead to scarring.
If you have the fluid aspirated from your cyst, you may have a reaction to the corticosteroid injection that follows the procedure.
Both excision and injection can cause some damage to nerves and blood vessels in the area of the cyst.
After your operation, you will need to reduce your activity level and rest. You may require stitches, bandages and even a splint following the procedure. All of this is dependent upon the location and the size of your cyst.
Regrowth of a ganglion cyst after surgical removal is very rare indeed. In fact, if you have your cyst surgically removed, the chance of recurrence is 5 to 15 percent. With good surgical procedure and good recovery practices (including good post surgery shoes), you can expect full recovery following your operation.
How to talk to your doctor about your ganglion cyst
Before any surgery it’s a good idea to understand exactly what will happen. Be sure to ask your doctor any questions you may have regarding the surgery and be sure that you know who will perform the surgery. Sometimes your doctor might refer you to a specialist and neglect to tell you. Showing up for surgery and finding a stranger waiting for you with a scalpel can be unnerving even for simple surgery such as this.
If your doctor recommends surgery, be sure to ask about post surgical wound care. Taking good care of your surgery site following your procedure will help you prevent scar formation.
Whether you have your ganglion cyst aspirated or surgically removed, discuss the concept of prevention with your doctor. Ask if he or she has recommendations to help prevent recurrence.
Ask your doctor what you can do at home to help with your symptoms and your problem. Your doctor is unlikely to provide home remedies, but he or she may be able to give you good instructions on post aspiration and/or post excision care. Additionally, he or she may have good recommendations to help deal with any pain a ganglion cyst may be causing.
Be sure to follow your doctor’s care orders to ensure successful healing. Proper rest and recuperation will ensure that you will not suffer from scarring, joint stiffness or infection.
Disclaimer: PediReviews.co.uk does not provide medical advice, treatment or diagnosis.