Baker’s Cysts

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A Baker’s cyst is exclusively found on the back of the knee, this area is referred to as the popliteal area of the knee. When your knee is damaged for whatever reason, a larger amount of synovial fluid is produced. As a result, the covering of a joint (or the joint capsule, as it is known) expands to the back of the knee. Accordingly, this causes an enlarged swelling, and can be identified as a cyst. Quite small cysts tend to go unnoticed; in fact, Baker’s cysts rarely have any symptoms at all, other than occasional tightness behind the knee if the joint is stretched. However, a Baker’s cyst can prove to be problematic if the cyst ruptures: this can lead to fluid trickling down inside your leg, causing the calf to feel pain through bruises, soreness and swelling.

Development of Baker’s cysts

Baker’s cysts tend to be as a result of other problems, rather than as a standalone problem itself. These include arthritis of the knee (either as a result of juvenile arthritis if you are young, osteoarthritis, if you are older). Any tearing of the cartilage in that particular area can also contribute to forming a Baker’s cyst in the popliteal area. The symptoms for a Baker’s cyst are very similar to deep vein thrombosis. Consequently, it may be necessary for your doctor to use ultrasound in order to distinguish a Baker’s cyst from deep vein thrombosis. Furthermore, it should be noted that a Baker’s cyst and deep vein thrombosis could well co-exist.

Treatment of Baker’s cysts

You only require further treatment if your cyst continues to cause pain and prevents you from using your knee as normal. In light of this, treatment for your Baker’s cyst can be applied manually from home, through the intake of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). This will aid the reduction of swelling and any pain. Other manual methods include compression bandages to be wrapped around the knee, while occasionally placing an ice pack in the affected area will also quicken the pace of healing the swelling and pain. Injecting corticosteroid medication directly into your knee is another treatment option to stop inflammation, which is safe, easy and can be done manually.


Of course, if a Baker’s cyst ruptures, prescription painkillers (namely paracetamol or codeine) may be required to control the pain. If pain persists, or symptoms of osteoarthritis begin to show, arthroscopy may be considered. With this method, an arthroscope looks inside a joint so that your surgeon can consider the inside of the joint: the arthroscope’s light and camera serve to illuminate the area and project the image back via a monitor. Through this technique, your surgeon can remove or repair any damage that has occurred from the inside of the knee joint.

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