Ganglion Cyst Development

What is a ganglion cyst?

A ganglion cyst is a small bump which forms below the skin, often near tendons or close to the joint capsule of various joints. A ganglion cyst is occasionally referred to as a synovial cyst.

Ganglion cysts often develop around the hand or wrist (wrist ganglion cyst), however it is not uncommon to see development of ganglion cysts around the foot (foot ganglion cyst).

Other areas where ganglion cysts can be seen include areas both in and around the joints of the ankle, knee, hip, elbow, shoulder and spine.

A ganglion cyst is not malignant. Ganlions are benign lumps filled with a thick, fatty fluid similar in consistency to jelly. Ganglions are generally painless unless they irritate joints, surrounding nerves or other structures. This is when they can cause some pain and discomfort.

What causes a ganglion cyst to form?

The cause of ganglion cysts is not entirely clear, however, it is thought that activities or occupations causing overuse of particular joints is the primary cause of ganglions.

The soft tissues or capsule surrounding a joint may become inflamed and swollen with lubricating fluid. The membrane surrounding a tendon may also tear following overuse type injuries. This could cause fluid to leak out into a small soft tissue sac which continues to swell and eventually forms a ganglion cyst.

Activities involving any form of repetitive overuse of joints or tendons can cause ganglions of the foot. These include skiing, jumping, running and other contact sports.

How is a ganglion cyst diagnosed?

Physical examination and radiographic examination are performed often in conjunction with an ultrasound scan and sometimes magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The fluid within the ganglion may also be removed for evaluation.

How is a ganglion cyst treated?

Some ganglion cysts spontaneously disappear without any treatment or with rest.

Ganglion cyst treatment usually involves rest and/or splinting the affected joint.

Aspiration of the fluid is sometimes necessary and in situations where the ganglions persist, then ganglion cyst surgery may need to be performed to remove the ganglion. Ganglion cyst removal should be discussed with your Doctor or Podiatrist if pain persists.

What can I do to prevent ganglion cyst development?

Warm-up and cool-down exercises which help to improve muscle strength and flexibility may help in preventing the formation of ganglion cysts.

WARNING : This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace professional podiatric advice. Treatment will vary between individuals depending upon your diagnosis and presenting complaint. An accurate diagnosis can only be made following personal consultation with a Podiatrist, your Doctor or your foot specialist.

More info on foot pain and ganglion cyst formation

Still unsure about your problem? Visit our Foot Problems page and ask us a question about your specific problem. We'll do our best to help.

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