Baker's Cyst Information

Last updated on 19 November 2018 by Danniel Jacques (B.Med.Sci UNSW)

What is a Baker’s Cyst?

Baker's Cyst

A baker cyst is a painful condition which can be characterized by swelling in the back of the knee.

This swelling occurs due inflammation in the synovial joint which encapsulates the knee resulting in the out-pouching of fluid into a little balloon type sac from the synovial lining.

When this condition develops, synovial fluid (which is normally contained in a tough capsule that encases the knee joint) collects in the baker’s cyst and bulges behind the knee.

This is also called a “popliteal cyst” as it directly affects the popliteal region of the knee (that shallow depression located behind the knee joints).

If left untreated it is possible for it to rupture. A ruptured baker’s cyst may then cause the collected synovial fluid to transfer and travel down the calf muscles of the legs. This can then trigger rapid swelling and discomfort of the leg which may then cause further complications.

What Causes a Baker’s Cyst?

Baker’s cysts are quite common and can be caused by nearly any joint-related inflammation. Some of the most common causes may include;

  • A micro tear in the knee’s meniscal cartilage
  • Repetitive stress injury.
  • Osteoarthritis of the knee (which is more common in older adults)
  • Injury to the anterior cruciate ligament of the knee (ACL injury)
  • Sports-related injury that affects the knee
  • The type of work that a person does may also make them more susceptible. This include jobs that involve being on your knees, such as a gardener or carpenter. Also such job that require long shifts without sitting or unusual weight loading through the knees such as nursing.

A baker’s cyst is also know as a >> popliteal cyst

What are the Symptoms of a Baker’s Cyst?

Symptoms may include; visible swelling or protrusion on the back of the knee (which can be either with our without pain), constant and prolonged knee pain, and tightness at the back of the knee or simply a feeling of tenderness at the back of the knee.

If left untreated a baker’s cyst may actually rupture. A ruptured or burst baker’s cyst can cause a lot of pain and discomfort and can present very similarly as a blood clot as there will also often be calf related pain.

How is a Baker’s Cyst Diagnosed?

It is always best to visit a qualified medical professional if you suspect that you have either a baker’s cyst or feel that your baker’s cyst may have ruptured or burst.

Your doctor will likely require you to have an ultrasound which will be able to confirm a diagnosis of baker’s cyst and also importantly rule out or alert the doctor of any existence of a blood clot.

If there is an infection suspected then a blood test and maybe an aspiration of the synovial fluid may be required for testing and culturing. In some cases an x-ray and or MRI may also be required to rule out any co-exist conditions that may have contributed to the condition.

Next Page: Learn the answers to the most common questions asked about treating a baker’s cyst, including:

Testimonials

Real accounts by real people. Hear what they have to say!

I’ve had knee problems for 3 decades and have had 4 surgeries due to an ACL Tear and numerous Meniscus tears.  Due to these problems, I’ve had a chronic problem with a Baker’s Cist in back of my knee.  I’ve been living with the Baker’s Cyst for years and the swelling that this Cyst caused […]

- William M, California, United States

I hurt my knee quite severely when out bushwalking in the Mt Mitchell National Park a distance of approximately 5.0 kilometres up total distance almost 11k. I hadn’t been doing much strenuous walking and on the way down I got a nasty pain in my knee. My doctor told me I had a Bakers Cyst […]

- Gabrielle W, QLD, Australia

We have purchased your patches for application on my husband’s knee.  It certainly drained some fluid from his knees, giving some relief after one application.

- Sharon B, Alberta, Canada

Hello Toky, 4 more patches to go, and I can report great improvement!  I can bend the knee, the lump in the back is so much smaller, (by half?) I think.  Not even thinking of a drain needle and cortisone shot at this point.  Your explanations are a little hard for me to follow medically, […]

- Judy, North Carolina, United States

I had a sac of fluid to the upper-right of my knee. Quite large. Initially I had pulled my calf muscle and without realizing the extent of the pull, I continued to pursue my daily routine which consisted of morning workouts at the gym including “spin” class.  Needless to say, I aggravated the whole situation. […]

- Vickie M, Rhode Island, United States


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