Baker’s cyst, also known as a popliteal cyst, is a sac filled with fluid that forms behind the knee. It is a common complication of knee joint damage, arthritis, or other rheumatic conditions.
Some patients find relief from simple home remedies and exercises, such as applying an ice pack and taking over-the-counter painkillers like ibuprofen. Others may need a medical procedure, such as draining the Baker’s cyst with a needle or surgery.
Baker’s cysts, also known as popliteal synovial cysts, are fluid-filled pockets in the back of the knee that cause pain and stiffness. How to Choose the Right Knee Wrap for Your Baker’s Cyst? They occur when there is an injury or disease of the knee that results in excess fluid behind the knee.
The extra fluid puts pressure on the lining of the kneecap, aggravating the Baker’s cyst. Exercise can help relieve symptoms, but it is important to work with a physical therapist to ensure that the exercises are being performed correctly. The wrong moves can actually injure the knee, intensifying the pain and swelling.
Exercise for Baker’s Cyst includes a mix of strengthening and flexibility exercises that improve the range of motion of the knee. It is also important to avoid high-impact exercises like jogging and tennis, which can aggravate the condition. Instead, a regimen of non-weight bearing exercises for Baker’s cyst, such as hamstring curls and calf raises can be helpful. These exercises are designed to target muscles that strengthen the knee joint and reduce stress on the popliteal space, reducing inflammation.
NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) are medicines that reduce pain and fever. They can also help control swelling. These include aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen. They work by blocking chemicals in the body that cause pain and swelling, such as prostaglandins.
GPs may advise resting the knee, wearing a compression wrap and taking an over-the-counter NSAID painkiller such as parcetamol or ibuprofen. They may also recommend gentle exercises to help stretch and strengthen the knee.
If a Baker’s cyst is persistent, it may need to be drained by a doctor. This is usually done using a needle. Surgery is only recommended if the cyst causes problems that can’t be solved with other treatments. This includes a long-term problem like arthritis or damage to the knee joint. A type of keyhole surgery called arthroscopy can be used to drain the cyst and repair any damage. This can be very successful, but the cyst can return.
Many Baker’s cysts go away on their own, causing no symptoms and disappearing under the skin where they are absorbed into the knee. But if the cyst ruptures or causes pain, treatment is needed.
Treatment options include draining (aspirating) the cyst or steroid injections. Your doctor may use ultrasound to find the best place to inject. Then they will clean the area and inject a mixture of a steroid and a numbing medication. The numbing medication should take effect right away, and the steroids reduce inflammation over time.
Surgical removal (excision) is very rare for Baker’s cysts, but your doctor may recommend it if the cyst has caused serious nerve or vascular problems in the knee. The procedure is called arthroscopic surgery. Your doctor makes tiny incisions and inserts a camera into the knee joint, then uses miniature instruments to treat conditions inside the knee that can cause Baker’s cysts. A few days after the procedure, you can start physical therapy to improve your knee’s range of motion and strength.
Baker cysts are rarely serious and usually go away on their own. But they can cause pain and swelling behind the knee. They may be a symptom of other knee problems, such as rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis.
Surgery to drain or remove a Baker’s cyst usually takes about an hour. First, your doctor sterilizes the knee and places anesthesia around it. Then your doctor makes a small incision, inserts an instrument called an arthroscope and puts a camera in the knee joint. The camera displays images on a video screen and guides the instrument.
The cyst is drained through a needle. Then the doctor may inject cortisone into your knee. The underlying knee problem should be treated as well. For example, you might need medicine for rheumatoid arthritis, or physical therapy to treat osteoarthritis.