What Is a Baker’s Cyst?
A Baker’s cyst is a fluid-filled sac behind your knee. It often causes a bulge and a feeling of tightness. You might hear your doctor call it a popliteal cyst.
Symptoms of a Baker’s Cyst
You may not have any. Or you might notice:
- Swelling behind your knee
- Swelling in your leg
- Knee pain
- Stiffness -- you won’t be able to bend your knee
Causes of Baker’s Cysts
These can include:
Swelling in the knee . This happens when the fluid that lubricates your knee joint increases. When pressure builds up, fluid squeezes into the back of the knee and creates the cyst. Causes of swelling include:
Baker’s Cyst Diagnosis
See your doctor if you have any of the symptoms listed above and they’re causing problems.
Baker’s Cyst Treatment
You may not need any. Baker’s cysts aren’t dangerous and tend to go away on their own. In the meantime, try these at-home remedies to ease your pain and make yourself more comfortable:
- Keep it cold. Apply a cold pack to the affected area. It’ll help keep the swelling down. A compression wrap might also help.
- Relieve pain. For pain (and to reduce inflammation), take an over-the-counter medication like ibuprofen.
- Rest your leg. Keep it raised above your heart level when possible. This will keep down swelling. Use a cane or crutch when you walk to keep pressure off your leg.
If these at-home treatments don’t work, see your doctor. They may recommend one of the following:
- Steroids . These can help reduce inflammation.
- Aspiration. Your doctor can drain the cyst. They’ll likely do it with the aid of an ultrasound. This treatment may not work if your case is severe.
- Surgery. If you’re in serious pain or if the cyst makes it hard for you to move your knee, this might be an option. But it’ll only work if your doctor also treats the issue that caused the Baker’s cyst to begin with, such as arthritis.
- Exercise. A physical therapist can teach you gentle exercises to help improve your range of motion and strengthening moves to build up the muscles around your knee. This could ease your symptoms.
- RICE: Rest, ice, compression, and elevation. Rest the joint when you can, use a compression bandage, apply ice, and raise your knee, especially at night.
If your leg turns red or starts to swell, see your doctor right away. This could mean your Baker’s cyst has burst.
Can I Prevent a Baker’s Cyst?
Possibly -- by preventing knee injuries in the first place. Wear the right shoes when you work out. Be sure to warm up before you exercise. And if you do get a knee injury, take care of it right away. See your doctor if it doesn’t get better.