Ronald W. Smith, M.D.

Ganglion Cysts and Plantar Fibromas

ganglion01I.      Definition:  Cysts and tumors are bumps that develop underneath the skin on all parts of the body.  Ganglion cysts are relatively common and often develop near the joints and tendos of the foot.  They occur when the lining of the joints or tendons becomes inflamed.  Ganglion cysts contain a clear, gelatinous fluid, tend to grow larger with increased activity, and can cause tingling, numbness, or pain.  Plantar fibromas are tumors that develop on the sole of the foot in the arch.  They occur when the plantar fascia, a thick band running along the sole of the foot, develops inflamatory nodules.  Plantar fibromas are often hard and tender.
II.      Cause:   Repeated irritation to a joint or tendon may cause a ganglion to develop.  There are many potential causes of joint irritation, thereby creating a higher risk of developing a ganglion cyst.
•    Boots or other restrictive footwear.
•    Repeated injury such as mild sprains or tendon injuries.
•    Rheumatoid arthritis.
The cause of plantar fibromas is unknown, but thought to be hereditary and associated with trauma or injury.
III.      Treatment and Prevention:  Small ganglions that do not cause pain or discomfort may not require any treatment at all.  Some ganglions spontaneously disappear without treatment, but may reoccur.  Reducing activity may serve to relieve pain and swelling of a ganglion.  A conservative form of treating ganglions may involve extracting the inner fluid to deflate the cyst, and injecting a steroid medication.  In some cases of ganglion cysts and plantar fibromas, surgery may be the recommended form of treatment.

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