Q: Several months ago I noticed a lump on the joint between my ankle and the
top of my foot that's about the size of a quarter and jelly-like in consistency.
It's painless and doesn't seem to be growing, but I'm scared it's a tumor or
something really serious. Can you help?
Dr. Donnica: I can help by reassuring you that this is most likely a non-cancerous
condition called a ganglion cyst, which is simply a ball of fluid growing on the
membrane covering that area. I encourage you to see your physician to confirm
the diagnosis and discuss your treatment options. Ganglion cysts are most common
on hands and wrists, but they sometimes grow on feet, knees and ankles. For unknown
reasons, women between 20 and 40 years old are most commonly affected. Their cause
is also unknown.
You are lucky to have no symptoms other than a noticeable lump. In some cases,
ganglion cysts may cause pain and muscle weakness that worsens with movement
of any nearby joints. Hopefully, you will also be lucky in that one third to
one half of ganglion cysts disappear on their own without any treatment.
A popular myth is that these cysts can be treated with "Bible Therapy"
- slamming a heavy book (such as a Bible) down upon them. Do not do this! If
the cyst is confirmed by a physician's exam to be a ganglion, you do not need
to treat it as long as you don't have symptoms. If symptoms develop, your doctor
may recommend needle aspiration (drawing the fluid out with a fine needle) or
surgical removal. These cysts are very likely to recur, even after surgical
Created: 7/5/2004  - Donnica Moore, M.D.