An unexplained bump or lump on the body is bound to be a disconcerting issue. It can raise questions as to why it has appeared and how serious it is. Some people may even be predisposed to assume it is a cancerous tumor. When located on the top of a foot, many of these cases are benign growths known as ganglion cysts. Understanding these cysts better can help to quell any immediate sense of alarm.
What Is a Ganglion Cyst?
These noncancerous lumps most frequently develop along areas of the body where joints or tendons can be found, including in the feet. They appear as a bump underneath the surface of the skin. In most cases, these cysts are filled with a thick, jelly-like fluid that is comprised of the material found in the linings of tendons. Ganglion cysts can vary in size, and the same lump can even undergo a pattern of growing and shrinking.
At this time, experts are not completely sure as to why these cysts develop, but there is a theory that they are associated with physical trauma. This might be the kind that comes from a solitary incident or a case of repetitive micro-trauma. Either way, the cysts will often disappear after an indeterminate amount of time in the same mysterious fashion in which they arrived.
What Symptoms Accompany a Cyst?
The most apparent symptom that you have a ganglion cyst is the physical appearance of the cyst itself, particularly in an area where there previously hadn’t been any lump or observable abnormality. In many instances, this is the only symptom indicating the condition.
For some patients, the mass presses against a nerve when it forms, which can lead to burning or tingling sensations. When it presses against a tendon or joint in a patient’s foot, it may cause a dull ache or even pain. A similar situation happens when shoes press against the bump and cause discomfort.
What Options Are There for Treating a Cyst?
Various options can prove to be effective for treating a ganglion cyst. The first course of action is to simply monitor the condition. In many cases, these lumps are nonthreatening and do not cause any difficulty for the patient. When this is the case, there is likely not a need to do anything about it except to keep an eye on it to make sure no further issues develop.
When footwear causes irritation or pain when the inside rubs against a lump on top of the foot, we advise switching to shoes that provide more room in the area. In this situation, another approach that can be helpful is to cushion the area with a pad inside the shoe, which will relieve pressure.
While we strongly advise not to attempt this procedure at home, the foot doctors at our office can drain the thick fluid from inside the cyst. Attempting this on your own can open the door for potential infection, which is a worse condition, so make sure to leave it to our professionals. In addition to extracting the fluid, we can also inject a steroid medication into the mass which can help shrink it.
In rare cases, conservative care proves to be insufficient. When this is the situation, a surgical procedure might be used to remove a cyst that is causing painful symptoms. As with any surgical procedure, we will discuss this in advance so you can understand what exactly is entailed.