What Is a Ganglion Cyst Anyway?

Shadowy FeetOf all the unwelcome surprises you might experience in a day, “unexplained bump on foot” has to be somewhere in the top half of the list. In this cancer-conscious society, the discovery of a mass of tissue anywhere can be a major cause of worry for many. Smooth bumps that appear on your foot are usually ganglion cysts; should you be concerned about them? And just what is a ganglion cyst, anyway?

First, the good news about what it isn’t: cancer.  However, there are forms of cancer that can mimic ganglion cysts, so identification is important.   These cysts are benign growths and are usually never medically serious. In fact, they’re often entirely painless, and may go away on their own.

Here’s what they actually are: round or oval-shaped sacs filled with a jelly-like fluid. They tend to form near tendons or joints, especially on your wrists, ankles, or the top of your foot, and while they are anchored at a stationary point, they may increase or decrease in size (from about half an inch to an inch or more in diameter) during periods of activity or rest.

It’s not currently known why exactly these bumps form, although there’s evidence to suggest that an injury or underlying flaw in a joint capsule or protective tendon allows surrounding tissues to push outward and fill up with fluid. That could be one reason why ganglion cysts commonly reoccur even after treatment, removal, or disappearing on their own. We do know that cysts tend to be more common in women than men, and among those who are in their 20s and 30s more than those in other age groups.

However, even if the cyst isn’t causing you any pain or mobility problems, it’s still wise to have it professionally evaluated soon after you notice it. A podiatrist like Dr. Harvey Danciger can provide an accurate diagnosis, rule out any similar (but potentially more dangerous) conditions, assess current and future risk, and recommend the optimal treatment plan (if any) for your situation. You can schedule an appointment online, or call us at (760) 568-0108.

Photo Credit: How Soon Ngu via unsplash.com

Dr. Harvey Danciger
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Dr. Harvey Danciger is a podiatrist and foot surgeon in Palm Desert, CA specializing in the foot and ankle
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