GANGLION CYST | DIGITAL MUCOID CYST
A ganglion cyst presents as a lump or bump under the skin occurring at any joint in the foot. Ganglion cysts are also very common in the wrist and hands. At Waterloo Foot Clinic, we often see a ganglion cyst on the lesser digits (smaller toes). These cysts are known as digital mucoid cysts. The cyst forms when the joint capsule is damaged and there is a leakage of joint (synovial) fluid into the surrounding tissue. Often patients will complain of unsightly appearance. The cyst may rupture and a clear sticky fluid may drain (this is synovial fluid). The cyst can also become very painful if located in a spot of frequent friction or irritation.
Conservative treatment is available for a ganglion cyst. The main goal is to prevent the irritation/causing factor in the area, for example; pressure redistribution. This can be effective, however, often ganglion cyst treatment requires surgery. Surgery can range from simple aspiration (removal of the fluid), and introduction of corticosteroid to a more invasive procedure in which surgical excision is required. At our clinics we tailor a treatment plan to each patient based on best practice. If surgery is required, it can be performed on site at the clinic by the Chiropodist.
Ganglion cyst may rupture from a heavy, external force. At one time, people used heavy books to strike the cyst (hoping for it to rupture) and allow the fluid to drain into surrounding tissue. Often a Bible was used (due to weight), hence why ganglion cyst may also be referred to as a Bible Cyst. This is not recommended for obvious reasons. A cyst should always be diagnosed before it is treated – make sure there is no possibility the bump is cancerous (neoplastic). Additionally, we do not want to cause further damage to an already susceptible joint capsule, or surrounding tissue. Finally, it is simply not effective.
If a ganglion cyst is left untreated overlying Callus (hyperkeratosis) may form. This area can become extremely painful. The callus causes increased pressure – potentially causing the cyst to become bigger. The callus may also cause the cyst to open and rupture. Once opened, there is now a portal of entry for pathogens (virus, bacteria, fungus, etc) to enter; potentially causing infection. It is also highly likely that the cyst will return. Therefore, you should always see a Chiropodist/Podiatrist/Foot Specialist for a comprehensive treatment plan.