Ganglion Cysts

No Worries When A Bump On The Foot Is Benign

What Are Ganglion Cysts?

Your brain is programmed to pick out irregularities, so when a lump shows up somewhere on your body, you might be tempted to worry, since it is one of the signs of cancer. Any bump on the foot should be checked out, but one reason for a lump, especially in women, is a ganglion cyst, and that is not necessarily a cause for concern. Learning more about them can calm your worries.

These soft tissues are sacs of jelly-like fluid that form where there is a tendon or joint capsule. They are round or oval in shape, and anywhere from a quarter-inch to an inch in diameter. They can get bigger or smaller over time, or even disappear completely and then return later. If they happen to be pressing on a nerve, you might feel a tingling or burning sensation. If they put pressure on a joint or tendon, a dull pain can bother you, and you may have trouble wearing shoes if they press on the lump.

Where Do They Form?

The most common location for the cysts is the hand—often on the top of the wrist—but they can form on the top of your feet, as well as in other tendons and joints in your body. The knot forms just under the skin, causing it to bump out. When diagnosing a cyst, we will feel the bump on the foot to see if it is soft and moves easily underneath the skin. We may also shine a light through it or take a small amount of the fluid to evaluate it.

Why Do I Have a Ganglion Cyst?

We don’t know the exact cause of these lumps, but we know that women have them more often than men. They may be related to a weakness in the tendon sheath that allows it to bulge, or they may be the result of a trauma of some sort—either a sudden impact or from repetitive motion over time. Repeated movement can also cause them to grow bigger and become more painful.

How Do You Treat These Cysts?

Many times, if there is no pain associated with the bump on the foot, we may not treat the cyst but simply monitor it. If it is giving you pain or is aggravated by pressure from your shoes, we may recommend one of the following treatments:

  • Shoe modifications to keep them from rubbing on the cyst. In many cases the lump will disappear on its own.
  • Immobilizing the area to reduce pressure on a nerve or tendon. Limiting the movement of the foot can lessen the trauma that is causing the cyst to form and grow.
  • Aspiration, or using a needle to withdraw the fluid. This may include using a steroid injection afterwards to reduce the risk of it returning.
  • Surgery If other treatments do not work, you might consider having both the sac and the “stem” that attaches it to the tendon surgically removed. There is some risk of damage to nerves, blood vessels and tendons, but complications are rare.

With all of these methods—even surgery—there is the chance that the ganglion cyst will return.

What Are Ganglion Cysts?

Who Do You Call in Ottawa?

If you notice a bump on your foot, call the foot experts at Ottawa Foot Clinic in Ontario. With accurate diagnosis, appropriate treatment, and concerned care, we can relieve your worries about your feet. Reach our office on Deakin Street by phone at (613) 595-9700, or request an appointment right on our website.