How to Tell if Your Lump is a Cyst

Sometimes what looks like a common object can be something unexpected. What looks like a plain vest, for example, can help hearing-impaired people understand words. This invention and many other cutting edge materials will be the showcase of “Real Life Science” Materials Science” at WonderLab on Oct. 25. If you have a lump on your foot, you probably want to know what it’s made of, too. Odds are good it’s a relatively harmless ganglion cyst, but how do we tell?

A ganglion cyst, which is a benign lump that tends to develop along tendons and joints, has a few simple qualities that can be tested. These lumps typically range in size from that of a pea to about an inch in diameter. Placing pressure on a cyst can cause discomfort or tenderness. And, although it might seem a bit silly, we may shine a light at the lump to see if it passes through. That can tell us whether the lump is filled with liquid (like a cyst) or is completely solid.

If additional testing is needed, imaging tests such as X-rays and ultrasounds can help narrow the field and rule out other possible causes. A sample of fluid can also be removed from the cyst with a syringe—a process called aspiration. This fluid can then be examined to confirm that the lump is indeed a ganglion cyst, as the fluid will be thick, jelly-like, and clear/translucent.

If you have a lump on your foot, it’s best to know what stuff it’s made of. It not only provides peace of mind, but early action in the case it turns out to be something more serious. Call our Bloomington office at (812) 333-4422 and schedule an appointment for Dr. Kevin Powers to examine the health of your feet.