Dear Foot Blogger Chick,
I have noticed a lump on my foot and I don’t know what it is or how it started. The lump is not hard – it moves around if you push on it. It doesn’t really hurt except some of my shoes rub on it and then it gets irritated. It is not the most attractive…. How serious can this be?
Lucy and the Lump
While you really need to have it checked by your friendly local podiatrist, it sounds like you have a ganglion cyst.
Before I get sidetracked with actual information, let me give you a short, silly history lesson. Ganglion cycts were called Bible cysts in the past. While they are often times found on the wrist, they can also be found on the foot. They were called the Bible cyst because to get them to go away, people would often drop the heaviest book in the house on the cyst. The heaviest book in the house was usually the Bible.
This is NOT the correct way to remove a ganglion cyst.
Ganglion cysts are mysterious little critters. There is no known cause for the cyst. Sometimes they can form due to injury or repetitive stress but sometimes they just form. The cyst consists of a jelly like substance. That substance called synovial fluid is the fluid that acts as a lubricant in your joints. Sometimes the fluid will collect and a cyst will form. The word Ganglion means “knot”. The fluid forms a “ knot” under the skin.
Ganglion cysts are benign. Some people do experience some pain from the site. The pain can be from your shoes rubbing on them. Also, sometimes if the cyst is on a tendon, it can cause pain, numbness, or tingling.
Checking out the cyst with the doctor is fairly easy. The doctor will look at the cyst and apply some pressure to the area just to get a feel for the cyst. If there is any question, the doctor can order an ultrasound or an MRI. Also, the doctor can use a needle to draw out a small amount of the fluid and examine it.
The cysts will sometimes shrink but there are several courses of action if it needs to be removed. (and none of them involve slamming the cyst with a Bible…) The first thing to know is that the cyst can come back.
No matter which treatment there is the possibility for re-occurrence.
One method of removal is the aspiration method. In this method, the doctor removes the fluid with a needle. Generally doing this one will remove the cyst in 74 percent of the cases.
The second method is to surgically remove the cyst. With surgery, the rate of re-occurrence is lower.
The best method is the one that is worked out with your doctor and depends on a number of factors. You and your doctor can go over the options and make a decision.
And while I am SURE that you would not consider this, please do not think that you can take a needle and pop the cyst yourself. Please visualize a stern mother face looking at you. This is something that you should not do. The chance of infection is very high and you don’t really want to damage your foot. I have heard that it is hard to walk without one.
So Lucy, in summary, you need to have the lump checked at your friendly local podiatrist to make sure it is a ganglion cyst. Once that is decided, there are various treatment options available for you. As usual, my favorite option is not to do anything but that depends on whether or not you are in pain.
So when you go to the doctor and you are told it is a ganglion cyst, you can look at the doctor and say “Oh a Bible cyst?” That will cause some uplifted eyebrows!
Foot Blogger Chick
If you have questions, don’t hesitate to send them to firstname.lastname@example.org or leave them in the comment section below. I am not a doctor but I check with one before answering questions.
Trivia Question of the week – How heavy is the largest Bible in the world?
Find the answer on our Facebook page – Evanston Podiatric Surgeons – on Friday, February 15. While you’re there, please take a moment to “like” us.
Follow us on twitter – @EvPodiatric and the answer will be tweeted on Friday morning as well.
The very nice doctors at Evanston Podiatric Surgeons have opened a new location! They are very excited to have an office on the “Magnificent Mile” in Chicago. So, if live or work downtown, help is even closer! Stop in and say “Hello and Congrats”. They would love to meet you. They are really that friendly!
Mag Mile Foot and Ankle Institute
333 N. Michigan Avenue Suite 1825
Chicago, IL 60601