Mucoid and ganglion cysts are lumps that occur around the joints and tendons.
They are benign, but unpleasant and scary – most people immediately think they have something much more serious, such as a tumor, growing under their skin.
- The cysts are filled with a fluid like a jelly, and thus they’re soft to the touch.
- They’re very easy to diagnose, being so visible, though, depending on their exact position, sometimes a specialist may require additional testing to exclude the possibility of lesions or other more serious problems.
- Most often, the lump itself is the only symptom. If you notice one, you should have it checked immediately by a specialist, but it’s not a reason to panic.
The biggest issue with ganglion cysts is when they press on a nerve, tendon, or joint. In such cases, they can cause anything from a mild discomfort and tingling sensation to acute pain and the inability to comfortably wear shoes.
Strangely enough, the actual causes for getting mucoid or ganglion cysts are unknown.
They have not been studied extensively, despite the fact that they’re a very common problem and were first described by doctors over two thousand years ago – one of the earliest documented conditions. They’ve been around since forever, and are very wide spread, yet we still don’t know what’s causing them.
While the actual causes remain a mystery, several risk factors have been associated with the development of ganglion cysts.
- They are more frequent in women aged 20-30.
- They are more frequently associated with osteoarthritis, as well as previous injuries to the joints or tendons.
- They seem to occur over existing tears – whether caused by significant trauma or just micro-tears that happens during the normal use of the foot.
In most cases, specialists don’t recommend taking any measures.
If the cyst is below the skin and does not cause any pain or discomfort, your best option may just be to go home and live with it for the rest of your life (or not – sometimes they just disappear by themselves as mysteriously as they appeared in the first place).
If you have to live with it, you should purchase shoe inserts or gel pads that allow you to wear any kinds of shoes without rubbing or applying pressure on the cyst.
Alternatively, we may recommend the aspiration of the fluid from the cyst, followed by an injection of steroid in the respective location. This will remove the cyst – at least temporarily. For some people, the recurrence rate is very high – again, for unknown reasons.
The last treatment option would be a complete excision, which frequently followed by arthroplasty. This surgery is quite invasive, but recurrence is very low – so it may be a good solution if the cysts are frequent and painful.
Overall, don’t be too disappointed if direct action isn’t called for in your treatment plan. Since these cysts are benign, intervention can sometimes do more harm than good.