What is a Ganglion Cyst?

Today I’m going to talk about a ganglion cyst. Now if you ever noticed a lump on foot or your toe either on the top or the bottom or around the ankle that seems to grow and maybe it shrinks some days and feels kind of squishy, and that you could compress it down but oftentimes can be quite painful especially when it’s pressed against shoes. Well you may have a ganglion cyst and may still have it.

What causes a Ganglion Cyst?

16_Ganglion-Cyst-300x185[1]A ganglion cyst is essentially almost like a balloon of fluid that is projected out either from tissue surrounding a tendon or from tissue surrounding a joint. Essentially what is happening is that through some process, either a minor injury or some other irritation to the tissue. The tissue that covers the tendons that allow them to glide and move freely or the tissue that covers and is found within a joint surface which allows the joint to glide and move freely becomes alpocketed away from either the tendon or the joint itself.

Now this tissue has the capability of being able to make a thick jelly like viscous fluid which is the lubricating fluid for either the tendon or for the joint itself. As this tissue alpockets away from the tendon or the joint and pushes up towards the skin surface, it will eventually start to create this fluid and it will fill with this jelly-like fluid. The process can [inaudible 00:01:47], some days the filling can be greater than others. What will happen is you’ll end up with a lump in the skin and this lump, which is still compressible because of the fluid itself you can compress and squish down, can still be quite painful because it can either A. be irritating against the shoe or B. the actual pressure of the cyst itself can push against sensitive nerve tissue adjacent to it.

How to treat a Ganglion Cyst

Treatment for this condition is successful in some ways and unsuccessful in others. The problem with cysts are that they have high chance of reoccurring even after you drain them and they still have a fairly high chance of reoccurring after you remove them surgically. The cyst can certainly be drained of the fluid, however, that doesn’t usually solve the problem if you’re just simply draining it. What will happen is that eventually the wall of the cyst itself will seal itself off and will simply create more fluid again. What typically is done is after the the cyst is drained it’s usually injected with a cortisone-like steroid medication which can help to scar and eradicate the production of the cyst fluid itself and can help to eliminate the cyst. Sometimes this works and sometimes it doesn’t, and the cyst does return in some form or another.

Surgery definitely gets rid of the cyst but when it cyst is removed surgically it must be very carefully removed and there shouldn’t be any of the tissue that formed the cyst left inside the body because otherwise that tissue can simply form another cyst again at some other point. Usually surgery is successful but there is a decent chance of the cyst sometimes returning in some cases following surgery. The old adage of taking a heavy book and slamming it down on the cyst to burst it isn’t such a good idea because it’s going to create a lot of trauma to the tissue and it’s going to create a lot of inflammation, and it’s not necessarily going to solve the problem of the cyst itself.

If you do develop a cyst that you notice on your foot somewhere and it is causing pain then it’s definitely a good idea to have that treated because these things can worsen, they can enlarge and can be persistent for many, many years. They are generally benign but any mass or lump that you notice on your foot you have to assume that it’s not necessarily benign and it does need to be looked at.

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