Have you sometimes felt a small roll of what feels like fatty tissue along the bone of your arm or leg? Does it feel squishy but not painful? These are ganglion cysts. They are non cancerous lumps that are usually found along the tendons or joints of the wrists, shin, ankles and feet. They can be round or oval and the squishiness is caused by the jelly like fluid that fills it. Ganglion cysts are usually quite small, harmless and don’t cause any problems.
When Does a Ganglion Cyst Become a Problem?
When a ganglion cyst presses on a nerve and causes pain or interferes with joint movement, it can become a problem. Symptoms of a ganglion cyst problem may also include tingling, numbness or muscle weakness in that area or along the nerve. If a ganglion cyst is causing problems, it may need to be removed.
Diagnosing a Ganglion Cyst
To find out if a ganglion cyst has become problematic, doctors may have to run some tests like X-rays, ultrasound or MRI to rule out more serious conditions, like a tumour.
Once diagnosed, there are several approaches to rectify the problem. These include:
If the cyst is not compromising movement, the foot doctor may decide to keep it immobilized and wait. Since activity can cause cysts to grow, immobilization with a brace or splint can help shrink it. When it shrinks, it will release the pressure on the nerve and the problem could go away without any other treatment.
The second way is to drain the fluid from the cyst with a needle. This procedure is called aspiration. The draining will shrink the cyst, causing the pressure on the nerve to decrease. But this may be a stop gap treatment as the cyst may fill up again and the pressure and pain may resume in a while.
If the problem keeps recurring, the doctor may have to do a minimally invasive surgery to get rid of the cyst. This will ensure that the problem is taken care of permanently.
A good foot and ankle doctor can take care of a ganglion removal procedure with ease.