Baker’s Cyst

What is a Baker’s Cyst?

Also called a poplitealcyst, a Baker’s cyst usually occurs at the back of the knee or knees. The cysts are usually filled with clear fluid. Despite their name, bakers are not most prone to getting them. Baker’s cysts are named after their discoverer, surgeon William Morant Baker.

The cysts are caused by damage to the knee joint. The most common causes are arthritis or injuries to the knee but can also be caused by many medical conditions, including cancer.

What are the Symptoms of a Baker’s Cyst?

A Baker’s cyst may or may not be painful but should not be ignored or it may rupture or cause blood clots.

Symptoms include

Cysts appear behind or around the knee and sometimes extend down the leg. Often there is pain or a feeling of stiffness when the knee bends such as when climbing stairs. Mobility may be affected. Any sudden swelling behind the knee should be checked by a doctor, since behind the knee swellings can be a symptom of arthritis, infection of the knee or knee joint, bone cancer, fractures, torn cartilage or Osgood-Schlatter disease. Anyone who had cancer and gets a strange swelling should be checked for a return of the cancer.

Baker’s Cyst Causes

A Baker’s cyst is a cyst that is filled with fluid that causes a feeling of tightness behind the knee and is often visible in the form of a bulge in the same area. A Baker’s cyst, also called a Popliteal cyst, often starts as a minor tightness that people mistake as a use soreness, but can quickly become quite painful, especially when you’re active, flexing your leg or extending your knee.

A Baker’s cyst is usually caused by some kind of problem with your knee joint, such as a cartilage tear or arthritis. Both of these conditions can cause a buildup of fluid in the knee joint, which causes Baker’s cyst. Fortunately, the remedy is usually easy, by treating the problem that has caused it, in which case the problem goes away.

How is a Baker’s Cyst Treated?

Very lucky people wake up one day to discover the cyst has disappeared as suddenly as it appeared. Fortunately for the unlucky, there are many effective treatment options for people suffering from a Baker’s cyst.

Treatment includes

Aspiration, or using a needle to drain out the excess fluid, causes immediate but temporary relief. Needles cannot be used for people with artificial knees because the needle may damage the knee.

Medications used to help reduce swelling and pain includes prescription painkillers, prescription-strength doses of over the counter painkillers and corticosteroids which may need to be injected into to the knee by a doctor.

Surgery helps people with ruptured Baker’s cysts or who experience cartilage damage from the cyst. The cyst area may be permanently discolored.

Baker’s Cyst Prevention

Unfortunately, there is no specific treatment for Baker’s cyst, but people who have a problem with their knee joints can lessen the chances that they will have it by being careful not to overstress their knee joints or by having other knee problems treated promptly. It is also known that by taking an anti-inflammatory and eating a low-salt diet one can also help prevent the problem by reducing inflammation. In older people, Baker’s cyst can be caused by osteoarthritis in the knee joint. Even children can develop Baker’s cyst, but in these cases it is caused by a malformation of the knee joint. Regardless, it might benefit the sufferer to curtail certain movements during their recovery.

Most experts agree that about 10 to 20 percent of people with knee problems will develop Baker’s cyst, although it is usually a secondary complaint.

Whatever the reason for Baker’s cyst, it should be treated promptly, since if it ruptures, it can be very painful and produce a bruised area around the knee and on the calf.