Ganglions – Joint & Tendon Cysts


Not all lumps and bumps in the body are cancer, but that doesn’t mean they can’t cause other concerns. Think about what happens when you fill a balloon with water. It doesn’t stay its original size; it expands rapidly to accommodate the fluid. This can happen in your body. Fluid can fill a sheath of tissue and create a large lump trapped under your skin and pressed against the structures around it, creating a ganglion cyst. As it grows and presses into other tissues, you feel the discomfort.

The Ballooning Tissue

Ganglion cysts are noncancerous lumps that develop on top of a joint or on a tendon sheath. It’s a small sac filled with a clear, jelly-like fluid that can range from pea-size to an inch or more in diameter. The lump may feel soft or firm to the touch. No one is sure what causes these cysts to form, though joints and tendons that have been injured in the past are more likely to develop them. One theory is that a flaw or trauma to the joint or connective tissue causes it to protrude outward, where it becomes cystic.

The growth may or may not cause pain, depending on where it is located. Frequently these cysts are harmless, but sometimes they can press painfully against nervous tissue. This can result in aching, tingling, and numbness down into the foot. Sometimes cyst growth in a tendon sheath can make that connector feel weaker and limit movement as well. If a growth of any kind is causing pain or limiting your mobility, you will need to have it examined and treated right away.

Releasing the Pressure

Although a ganglion cyst is benign, you do need to have it evaluated to make sure it isn’t a type of pre-cancerous development. The experts at Country Foot Care will evaluate the lump carefully. They may perform and in-house diagnostic ultrasound or order and MRI to get a clearer picture of the bump and what tissues it affects. They may also choose to aspirate—or draw fluid from the spot for a test. Once they diagnose the cyst, they can help you determine a treatment.

If the condition is painful or causing weakness, you will need to have the bump eliminated so that it doesn’t cause tissue damage. Activity can make the cyst larger, so you may need to rest or even immobilize the affected joint. The doctor can then drain the bump of its fluid, relieving the pressure on your nerves. Sometimes you might need an injection of medication into the joint to help it heal as well. Occasionally, though, these minimally invasive measures might not be enough to eliminate the problem. Minor surgery to remove the whole sac and cut out the stalk attaching it to your joint tissues eradicates it completely. It is still possible for the condition to recur, but removing it does help the joint recover quickly.

An unusual lump anywhere on your feet or ankles might be indicative of the presence of a ganglion. Even if the problem turns out to be benign, it can cause painful nerve damage and weaken your tendons. To be certain, make an appointment with the expert doctors at Country Foot Care so the situation can be evaluated and properly diagnosed.  To make an appointment you can make your request online using the MAKE AN APPOINTMENT button at the top of this page or you can call either of our offices and our caring staff will be happy to help you.