What is it?
A ganglion cyst is a fluid
filled sac or soft tissue growth that lies over a tendon or underlying joint
defect. The joint problem is most often a bone spur or roughened projection
that causes friction with the soft tissue above it and in time, results in
the formation of a cyst. Ganglionic cysts can vary in size from that of a
small grape to a walnut and can become quite firm to touch. The discomfort
caused by a ganglionic cyst is because of shoe pressure against the growth
and subsequent irritation to the surrounding nerves in the area. A frequent
site for these annoying soft tissue cysts is on the top area of the foot and
on the front of the ankle.
What causes it?
Trauma or injury is the
prime cause of ganglionic cysts with bone growth abnormalities taking up the
number two slot. The sequence or order in which these factors may occur is
less clear but we do know the following:
1. There is frequently
some sort of injury to the involved site which
sparks the formation of the cyst.
2. There is
frequently an underlying bone projection or roughened area of a joint that
irritates an overlying tendon, which in turn results in a cystic growth.
3. The time between
the injury and the onset of a noticeable cyst can vary from days to several
How do you treat it?
The treatment of a
ganglionic cyst, like that of many other clinical conditions, includes both
conservative and surgical approaches. A good initial treatment option is to
drain the cyst and inject an anti-inflammatory medication followed by
compression dressing to prevent refilling of the growth. Two or three
injections might be necessary over a several week period to accomplish the
desired effect. Proper shoe selection and modifications are also carefully
monitored during this initial period in order to reduce the soft tissue
irritation. Physical therapy on a scheduled basis, in some instances, can
also be beneficial. Surgical removal of the cyst is usually suggested when
the conservative therapies have failed in resolving the problem.