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Ganglion cysts in the foot are a common type of soft-tissue growth. They are commonly found on the foot and/or ankle and they tend to grow on the joint lining or tendon sheath and usually develop on the top of the foot. These growths are not cancerous, although foot cysts can be unsightly and cause discomfort. They are typically not painful, unless your shoes, socks, or the pressure of walking press on them and surrounding nervous structures. If this is the case, they can become painful and inflamed. Ganglion cysts can progress, regress, and sometimes resolve themselves over time. Ganglion cysts can usually be diagnosed upon examination only.
Self Care for Cysts
If you suffer from ganglion cysts, there are some things that you can do to reduce the cysts and relieve the discomfort:
- Avoid unnecessary pressure by using padding, re-lacing your shoes for a more comfortable fit, and making sure that the toe of your shoe is not so small that it is compressing your toes.
- Use ice on the painful or affected areas two to three times per day for 15 to 20 minutes at a time.
- Compression can also provide relief.
Be sure not to attempt to lance or drain them on your own as this can lead to serious infection.
To obtain a diagnosis, your doctor may apply pressure to the cyst to test for tenderness or discomfort. He or she may try to shine a light through the cyst to determine if it’s a solid mass or filled with fluid. He or she may also recommend imaging tests, like x-rays, ultrasound, or MRI, to rule out other conditions, such as arthritis or a tumor.
A ganglion cyst diagnosis may be confirmed through aspiration, which is a process in which your doctor will use a needle to draw out the fluid from the cyst. This is also a possible treatment applied to the cyst. Other possible treatments include immobilization, which can help to shrink the cyst and relieve pressure on nerves.
Surgery is one last option if other approaches have not worked. During this procedure, the doctor removes the cyst and the stalk that attaches it to the joint or tendon. Sometimes, the surgery can injure the surrounding nerves, vessels, or tendons, though it’s rare. Surgery can be performed through one larger incision or arthroscopically, through several smaller incisions. Some studies show that arthroscopy works as well as open surgery and may heal faster. Even after surgery, the cyst can recur.
There are a few types of self-treatment you can try:
- Anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen or naproxen.
- Modifying your shoes or how you lace them can relieve the pain. Modify your shoes to decrease any rubbing or irritation to your cyst.
There is a well-circulated home remedy that involves “whacking” the cyst with a heavy object. This method can damage the surrounding structures in your foot, and only provides temporary relief by rupturing the cyst sac, only to allow it to refill with fluid.
Once again, under no circumstances should you try to puncture the cyst yourself with a needle, as it could easily lead to infection, and is almost always ineffective.
Get pain relief and treatment for ganglion cysts at Diablo Foot and Ankle. Our medical specialists have plenty of experience in the field. Call today to schedule an appointment. We are here to help.