By Brett D. Sachs, DPM
Because lumps are so often associated with cancer, when you get one on your foot you may be concerned. However, there are other reasons for such a formation, one of which is a ganglion cyst. Although it forms more often in your wrist, they can occur anywhere in your body where there are tendons and joints. Let’s take a closer look at this condition.
Anatomy of a Ganglion Cyst
We don’t fully understand what causes these growths to form. They typically grow out from one of your joints or from a tendon. The tiny stalk is topped by a bulbous sac of jelly-like fluid, which forms the visible bump you see under your skin. They seem to be associated with a bulge in the tissue around a joint or tendon, and the fluid in the sac resembles that found around these other tissues.
The good news is that this type of growth is benign and not a reason to worry about cancer. It can, however, cause discomfort—not that it itself hurts, but even a small one can press on a nearby nerve and cause tingling, numbness or pain.
Are You at Risks for Developing a Cyst?
For some reason, most of these benign growths appear in women from about age 20 to age 30. They can be associated with osteoarthritis, which develops from wear on the joints. They can also appear later in a joint or tendon that has been injured at some time in the past.
Still, anyone can get a cyst like this, and not always just in the hand, wrist, foot, or ankle. They have also appeared in the knee, and near the scapula in the upper back.
Symptoms of a Ganglion Cyst
The bulging or lump in your skin can feel firm or spongy (think rubber bouncy ball vs. water balloon). It can come in various sizes, from pea size to as big as an inch in diameter. It usually doesn’t move much, but may change in size from time to time. It can swell up, and then go down in size again. It can even disappear completely, and then come back later.
In about a third of cases there may never be any pain, but most will cause some discomfort, especially if they are bumped or sustain other trauma. There is some thought that repetitive motion of the joint or tendon it is attached to can increase the pain. The affected tendon may also be weaker and not function as well.
Medical Care for a Ganglion Cyst
It is always best to have any lump on your foot checked out by our expert podiatrists at Rocky Mountain Foot & Ankle Center in Colorado. We can ease your mind by confirming it is a cyst, or design proper treatment if it turns out to be something more serious.
As we said, a cyst may disappear on its own and not need treatment. You may also not need to do anything if there is no pain or numbness and the cyst doesn’t interfere with your activities. If it does, we can try aspirating it (drawing out the fluid with a needle), or removing it surgically. Prognosis is quite good for either method, but in general surgery seems the more permanent remedy. Both treatments may require wearing a splint for a time to immobilize the area.
To have a lump on your foot checked, simply call (303) 423-2520 and set up an appointment. We are conveniently located in Wheat Ridge and Golden, CO, with limited hours in Evergreen and Granby as well. You can also contact us online to schedule your visit. Dr. Matthew Paden, Dr. Brett D. Sachs, and Dr. Dustin Kruse and our friendly staff are pleased and ready to help with all your foot problems.