A ganglion is a fluid-filled cyst that forms on the lining of a joint or tendon. They are most commonly found along the top of the foot or on the ankle, although these cysts can form on any part of the foot. Ganglion cysts tend to grow slowly over time until they become irritated and visibly noticeable.
What Causes Ganglion Cysts to Form?
A ganglion cyst forms on the weakened lining of a tendon or joint so the cause of the weakened lining is the true reason for the cyst forming. This is most commonly caused by spot-specific irritation due to ill-fitting shoes or by wearing boots that place too much stress on the foot or ankle. Ganglion cysts are also commonly formed in areas where bone spurs are present due to the increased irritation caused by the bony growth.
Signs and Symptoms of a Ganglion Cyst
Ganglion cysts usually form without any identifying symptoms. All-too-often, the patient is unaware that the cyst is forming until the lump is visible on the foot. Different activities and changes in the weather can cause the cyst to increase or decrease in size. Pain is rare with this foot condition unless the cyst is in an area where it is putting pressure on the nerves located in the overlaying skin. When this occurs, pain, numbness, and tingling may be experienced.
What are the Conservative Treatment Options for Ganglion Cysts?
A ganglion cyst can be successfully treated in many instances without surgical intervention. Common conservative techniques available for treating this condition include:
- Removal of fluid from the cyst
- Limiting certain movements or activities
- Applying ice to the affected area
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications
- Special pads placed around the cyst to help alleviate pressure and friction
When is Surgery Needed?
If conservative treatment has not been successful and the patient is suffering from ongoing pain, then the doctors at Pennsylvania Foot and Ankle Associates may recommend surgical intervention. If this is the case, the ganglion “wall” is completely removed during the surgery. In some cases, additional surrounding tissue may be removed as well. Your surgeon will discuss your surgical options and your recovery expectations prior to you making a decision about your treatment.