A baker cyst is a common cause of pain and swelling behind the knee. People often have lots of questions regarding a baker's cyst, and here we will answer those most commonly asked.
If you have a small squashy lump behind your knee it could be a Baker’s cyst. Typically if it is a baker’s cyst then your pain will increase with exercise but improve with rest. Bending and straightening the leg is also likely to bring on pain.
Visit the pain behind the knee section to find out about the most common causes of pain and swelling behind the knee.
The most common cause of Baker’s Cyst is osteoarthritis but injuries that cause swelling in the knee can also lead to Baker cyst. Excess synovial fluid in the knee seeps out of the joint and into the bursa behind the knee. This expands and appears as a squishy lump.
The classic symptom of Baker’s cyst is a small squashy lump on the back of your knee. As it grows it will increasingly cause knee pain. Pain typically increases when straightening or bending the leg. Resting the knee will improve things but exercise or long periods of standing will make it worse.
Primary methods for treating Baker’s cyst are ice treatment, taking NSAID medication (e.g.Ibuprofen) and stretching exercises. Doctors can drain the cyst with a needle and use cortisone injections but the impact of both can be short lived. Electrotherapy from physiotherapists has also been shown to help. Surgery is occasionally an option.
If a bakers cyst is extremely painful or persistent, your doctor may want to drain the fluid with a needle. It is a fairly painless procedure – just a slight prick as the needle penetrates the skin. You may also be given a steroid injection to reduce swelling. In some cases, the fluid return’s.
Whilst it is uncomfortable, Baker’s cyst is typically not dangerous. It is caused by excess fluid in the knee being pushed out into a small sac called a bursa. This then grows to the point that it is visible on the back of the knee.
Excessive swelling or pressure on the bursa can cause a Baker's Cyst to burst. When a Baker's cyst ruptures, the fluid seeps down into the calf causing a sharp pain in the calf. The calf may also become red, swollen and tight. A ruptured baker cyst can be extremely painful.
A Baker’s Cyst gets its name from the surgeon who first wrote about the condition, Dr William Morrant Baker (1838-1896). He was an English physician and surgeon. A baker cyst is also known as a popliteal cyst. It is a fluid filled cyst found at the back of the knee.
To get rid of Baker’s cyst, there are ways of reducing the short term pain including using ice and anti-inflammatory painkillers. To avoid recurrence, strengthening the muscles around the knee is important. Stronger muscles mean less force is put through the bones thus reducing the likelihood of swelling and the cyst returning.
You can find out loads more about the causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment options, as well as how to prevent recurrence in the Bakers Cyst Knee section. You can also find stretches that help to treat and prevent the condition in the baker cyst exercises section.
There are lots of other conditions that can cause back of knee pain. If you're not sure if you've got a Baker Cyst or something else, visit the pain behind the knee section.