Ganglion Cysts: What Are They?

Popping videos have been all the rage thanks to the rise of Dr. Pimple Popper—and even our podiatrists have got in on the action with our own series of ganglion cyst videos. But what are ganglion cysts and why are our doctors popping them?

A ganglion cyst (also known as a bible bump) is nothing more than a sac filled with jelly-like liquid that most commonly occurs where nerves and tendons meet (that’s the “ganglion” part), and doesn’t signal a more serious condition. In fact, the cyst is a sign that your body is doing what it’s supposed to do: the problem probably began with an injury that caused some fluid to leak into the surrounding tissue; the cyst was formed to keep the fluid contained.

Knowing that a cyst isn’t dangerous doesn’t make it any more comfortable, however, and you’ll probably want to ask your doctor to remove it. The doctor may start by trying to aspirate it—drain it with a syringe—but in many cases, the fluid inside the cyst is too thick for the needle. The next step is to pop the cyst.

In many ways, a cyst is just a big pimple located a little further down in the tissue, and the process of popping it is very much the same. Your doctor will numb the area and then gently push the sides of the cyst until the thick fluid inside begins to squeeze out. You’ll see an immediate difference as the cyst drains and the lump disappears; when the cyst is empty the doctor will wrap the affected part of your foot in a compression bandage and you’ll be asked to keep it compressed for ten days to give your body a chance to repair the area.

An old name for ganglion cysts is “Bible bumps” because people used to treat the cysts by hitting them with a heavy book (not recommended!); the intention was to rupture the cysts and break up the surrounding sac.  Manually popping the cyst and then applying compression should permanently take care of the sac but if the cyst proves to be more stubborn you may need to return once or twice for another popping. In very rare instances the cyst can not be aspirated or popped, in which case the cyst can be removed with simple out-patient surgery.

If you are concerned about a lump on your foot, or if you know you have a cyst and want to have it removed, make an appointment to see your podiatrist for an evaluation. Triad Foot & Ankle Center has three convenient locations to serve your foot and ankle care needs. Request an appointment today.

 

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