We like things to be smooth. Choppy waves or a bumpy flight can give us motion sickness. A road full of bumps and potholes can ruin our tires. In your body, bumps can be a sign of something wrong. When we think of lumps, we often think cancer, but there are other medical conditions that can cause a bump to form under our skin. If you notice one on your foot, you may have a fibroma, bone spur, or fluid sac called a ganglion cyst.
What Is a Ganglion Cyst?
This type of soft-tissue mass is one of the most common causes of a lump that forms in your body. You can use the image of a plant such as a tulip or allium to describe a cyst. It usually has a slender stem that expands into a bulbous sac of clear, jellylike fluid at the end. The stem is usually grounded in the capsule of a joint or on a tendon.
Although the exact reason they form has not been determined, the sac will often appear after an injury or from repetitive trauma to the area. One theory is that there may be a small opening in the sheath of a tendon or ligament that allows the joint tissue to bulge out.
What Are the Symptoms?
The main one is the bump you can see—often on the top of your foot, but it can occur in other places as well. It may be more visible when you flex your foot. You may never experience any pain with it but if you feel a constant, dull ache, it’s most likely putting pressure on a tendon or joint. If it is pressing on a nerve, you may notice numbness, tingling, or burning in your foot or toes. It could even cause muscle weakness and limit your movement. The mass is soft and may change in size from day to day or even disappear for a while and then come back again. When it is present, you could find it difficult to wear your normal shoes comfortably.
Who Gets Them?
These fluid sacs can form many places in your body, but hands and feet are the most common sites. People have reported getting them from banging their hand in a car door, playing cymbals in a school band, chipping ice off the driveway for a couple of hours, and other repetitive tasks.
If you play sports or have a job where your feet perform the same motions over and over, you may have a higher chance of developing cysts. The risk is also greater if you are a woman. Most problems occur between the ages of 20 and 40, although sometimes a child under 10 years of age can get one.
How Are Ganglion Cysts Treated?
If a lump appears on your foot, you will want to have it checked out with a health care provider, just to make sure it is not something more serious. We can usually tell if it is a cyst by examining it, possibly shining a light through it to see if it is fluid or solid. We may use a needle to remove some of the fluid for analysis and perform ultrasounds for diagnosis.
We can usually treat a ganglion cyst right in our foot clinic. Sometimes, if it is causing no pain or limitation, we may simply observe it, because many times the growth just goes away on its own. We can show you how to massage the mass, which can sometimes reduce the pain and lessen the size. We can also aspirate the fluid from the cyst and inject a steroid to keep down inflammation. If the growth repeatedly comes back or appears to be caused by a blood vessel, we may refer you to a foot surgeon to determine further treatment.
We can put your mind at rest about the bump on your foot. Call Abbott Foot & Ankle Clinic in Collingwood, ON, at (705) 444-9929 and set up an appointment. There is no need to suffer aching feet or uncomfortable shoes when we can treat easily treat it. Let us smooth out the bumps so you can travel in comfort.