Soft tissue masses to the top or side of your foot or ankle is a common concern for patients that visit our practice. These lumps usually start off small and they can become gradually larger and more noticeable. They can begin to hurt if they push on nerves, restrict motion or cause pressure when rubbing against socks and shoes. Most people cannot corelate a specific injury or incident for what caused the lump. Some people may have had them before but returned. A high percentage of these lumps are due to a ganglion cyst. A ganglion cyst is a sac of thick fluid, similar to what is inside your joints, that forms directly from a joint or along a tendon. The cyst fills up like a balloon because of a stalk that arising from the joint or tendon. After a thorough physical exam of the area, an Xray or MRI may be obtained to evaluate the surrounding tissues and bony structures.
Treatment options are either observation, aspiration or excision. Observation can be done if the cyst is non-painful and doesn’t change in appearance. If there is any concern that the cyst could be caused from something else or if it painful, an aspiration can be performed in the office. This involves numbing the skin surrounding the cyst and draining it with a needle. Sometimes the contents of the cyst will be sent for analysis to ensure proper diagnosis. The cyst may be injected with steroid to prevent recurrence. If the cyst returns and is painful, the cyst can be excised surgically and the stalk is cauterized to prevent recurrence. This is an outpatient procedure that is performed at a surgery center or hospital. While ganglion cysts are benign, there are other forms of cysts and tumors that can form in the foot and ankle that are cancerous. Because of this, it is important to have any areas of concern examined. If you suffer from this problem or any other foot/ankle issues, please call us at 972-542-2155 for more information.