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What is this lump on top of my foot? Ganglion Cysts

What is a ganglion cyst?

A ganglion cyst refers to a tumor-like growth on the tissue connecting muscle to the bone. It typically possesses a sac like appearance, which is collectively referred to as a cyst. Internally, the cyst may contain a thick, sticky, clear, gelatinous fluid. The cysts vary in the texture, ranging from firm to spongy. They can also range in size from considerably small to relatively large. Small cysts can exist in high numbers, and can create the illusion of multiple tumorous growths. However, when many cysts form, they are usually rooted in a deeper tissue that joins them together. These cysts are usually benign.

A ganglion cyst of the foot. (Ricethin / Wikimedia Commons)

A ganglion cyst of the foot. (Ricethin / Wikimedia Commons)

Ganglion cysts are sometimes referred to as Bible cysts, and typically afflict women. 70% of all cases appear to arise in individuals between the ages of 20 and 40. In rare cases, however, children under the age of 10 can develop this condition. Normally, these formations sprout on the palm within the wrist. However, they develop less commonly on top of the foot, or even outside of the ankle.


The exact cause of this condition remains unknown. Theoretically speaking, trauma may result in joint degeneration, which gives rise to small cysts that unify into a larger, ganglion mass. Otherwise, an issue arising from within the joint capsule is a common theory of a potential explanation.


This condition is very noticeable when a round bump emerges on the foot, usually being immutable and soft. On occasion, the swelling may occur gradually, disappear, and then suddenly arise later on. This condition may give rise to some pain, especially if the foot is repeatedly exposed to injury. Weakness is also reported in the foot area, in some cases. You should seek medical care and treatment if a cyst exists, whether your condition causes discomfort or doesn’t


In order to diagnose a ganglion cyst, a physical exam is needed. The doctor may also choose to acquire fluid from the cyst area or utilize the ultrasound method to glean more insight. The ultrasound can determine if the cyst is filled with fluid or if it is a solid formation. This exam method can also determine if an artery is producing the enlarged formation in the area. In severe cases, you may be referred to a surgeon.

If you have been diagnosed with this condition, and have proceeded with treatment, your post-treatment follow up will be important. Inquire about whether or not joint movement is safe after treatment. After surgery, you may need a splint for a given period of time.



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