A ganglion cyst is a benign tumor, or lump that can occur anywhere on the body but most commonly found on the hands and on the feet. It is a sac filled with fluid that arises from either a joint or from a tendon.
How do you get a Ganglion Cyst?
The growth is more common in women and 70% of ganglion cysts occurring in people between 20-40 years of age. Ganglions usually occur due to a weakness in the covering of a tendon or joint space. Everyday trauma such as motion of a tendon over a bony prominence or pressure from a shoe on a tendon or joint can cause a weakness in the covering with a subsequent swelling of liquid into a confined space thus causing the “lump” to form.
What does a Ganglion Look Like?
The growth may be moderately firm or soft, depending on the fluid content or whether the outer part of the sac bears calcification or callus. The fluid itself a colorless gel. Pressure on the ganglion cyst itself rarely causes pain; any pain is from pressure to adjacent structures.
How is a Ganglion Diagnosed?
A diagnosis of ganglion cyst is usually made on clinical examination based on location of the growth and relevant history. An x-ray may be taken to rule out a bone spur as the aggravating factor behind the formation of the cyst. If there is any question as to the diagnosis an MRI or diagnostic ultrasound may be ordered..
How is a Ganglion Treated?
Once the mass is diagnosed as a ganglion cyst it may be left alone if it is not painful or causing problems with shoes. Sometimes these growths will spontaneously disappear. However, if there is any pain associated with the growth or you do not like the appearance a needle aspiration is the simplest approach. This procedure is usually preformed by your Doctor or Orthopaedic Surgeon. There is a 70% recurrence rate with this form of treatment, the upside is that the procedure can be repeated again since it is a relatively painless procedure.
Surgical excision is possible, but keeping in mind that there is even a recurrence rate with this form of treatment.
Conservative treatment consists of orthotic therapy to divert pressure if possible from a painful Ganglion and to support the foot into normal biomechanics in an attempt to address the underlying cause of the Ganglion.
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