Ganglion Cyst

A ganglion cyst is a tumor or swelling that occurs in the lining of a joint or tendon (the soft tissue structure that connects muscle to bone). These are sac like structures that can be found anywhere there is a joint or tendon structure. Frequently these  cysts are located on the top of the foot or front of the ankle. Inside of the cyst is a thick, apple jelly like substance that is non-harmful. The location of the cyst is frequently the determining factor as to the amount of pain the person experiences. Because the cyst can become extremely firm, they are notorious for causing painful pressure when a person and attempts to wear shoes. Frequently, these cysts are mistaken for bone spurs.

Ganglions account for more than one half of all of the soft tissue tremors that occur within the foot and ankle.

These cysts occur more frequently in women, and 70% occur in people between the ages of 20 and 40 years of age. These cysts have frequently been coined “Bible cysts”.



Repeated irritation or trauma have been blamed for the cause of these deformities. People who wear boots frequently or those who have a bone spur (bony outgrowth) are more likely to experience these ganglions.


Physical examination:

During the examination of this type of cyst, the Dr. will commonly used a light to evaluate if the cyst allows light raise to penetrate, something known as translumination.



If a bone spur as suspected, an x-ray will be obtained. However, a simple painless test can be performed in the office (if your doctor's office is equipped) using diagnostic ultrasound. This will give a very nice image of the cyst which can assist your doctor's ability to plan a treatment strategy. Sometimes, even an MRI is required with special dyes for the evaluation.



Needle aspiration is frequently attempted to remove the fluid within the cyst. This has been shown to be very successful in alleviating the pressure. However, reoccurrence is always a potential with this technique of treatment. Surgical excision may also be required to eliminate the problematic cyst.

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