Baker’s Cyst

A Baker’s cyst is a pocket like lump filled with fluid that is present behind the knee. This bulge causes a feeling of tightness in the knee. It even get worse if the leg is stretched or during active movements. It is also named as popliteal cyst.

Synovial fluid i.e., a lubricating fluid is naturally present in the knee which helps it to swing, move smoothly and reduce the friction in the joint. In some cases the knee produces so much synovial fluid that results in the formation of popliteal bursa causing a Baker’s cyst. It is formed when excess fluid accumulates behind the knee by the diseases such as osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis. These diseases affect the joints and especially irritate the knee joint. The fluid forms a sac of tissues and bulges out behind the knee, that is called a cyst. This cyst can also form in a result of an injury.

Usually Baker’s cyst never cause any pain but its symptoms include:

  • Stiffness or tightness behind the knee
  • Pain in the upper calf and behind the knee when the leg is bend or straighten up
  • Swelling occurs that gets worse when the body is stretched

Some complications may occur if the cyst bursts out and leaks the synovial fluid in the calf region that results in calf swelling and redness, knee pain and feeling of water flowing down in the calf.

Baker’s cyst diagnosis is usually done by a physical exam, but some of its symptoms resemble the symptoms of other diseases such as Aneurysm or tumor, blood clot etc. So to do the perfect diagnosis following imaging tests are required:

  • MRI
  • X-ray
  • Ultrasound

Usually small Baker’s cysts disappear on there own, but if it is big and causes pain then medications and treatments are important.

  • The medication includes corticosteroids i.e., cortisone that is induced in the knee to reduce inflammation, but it just relieves the pain and doesn’t prevent reformation of the cyst. More medicines include ibuprofen and naproxen.
  • Drainage of the fluid from the knee joint with the help of a needle. This process is called as needle aspiration and is performed under ultrasound.
  • Some healthy and strengthening exercises can also help in preserving the function of knee.
  • A crutch or cane and compression wrap around the knee in an elastic bandage also help to reduce the swelling and pain.

Surgical treatments are rarely needed in case of Baker’s cyst associated with the disease osteoarthritis. This type of cyst is improved with the treatment of arthritis. But if the Baker’s cyst is formed due to cartilage tear then surgery is needed to remove or reform the torn cartilage.