Baker’s Cysts

If you’re experiencing pain in your knee, you could have a Baker’s cyst. This type of cyst is found behind the knee joint and may happen due to arthritis or a cartilage tear. 

When a Baker’s cyst happens, you could end up needing surgery. Dr. John Andrachuk provides years of experience with several treatment options for Baker’s cysts. Whether it was caused due to a tear or arthritis, the right Orthopedic Sports Medicine surgeon in Atlanta will help you get back to normal.

What is a Baker’s Cyst?

A fluid-filled sac found behind the kneed is known as a Baker’s cyst, also called a popliteal cyst. It will likely cause a feeling of tightness and may cause a bulge behind the knee. If you fully flex your knee or extend your knee, it can get worse. 

What Causes a Baker’s Cyst?

The fluid found in a Baker’s cyst is known as synovial fluid. It’s a clear liquid that circulates within the knee joint to keep it lubricated. If too much fluid is produced, the pressure may lead to a bulge in the one-way valve. This may cause a popliteal cyst or Baker’s cyst to form. 

Some of the main causes of this type of injury include:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Arthritis of the knee
  • Damage to the cartilage in the knee
  • Joint inflammation of any king in the knee
  • Gout leading to the buildup of uric acid in the blood
  • Sport-related injuries

Most Common Baker’s Cyst Symptoms

Sometimes, Baker’s cysts don’t cause any pain and you may not notice it. However, it can also come with quite a bit of pain. Some of the common symptoms of a Baker’s cyst include:

  • Knee pain
  • Stiffness
  • Inability to flex your knee
  • Inability to fully extend your knee
  • Swelling behind your knee or in your leg
  • Bruising on the knee or on the calf

The pain may increase if they cyst ruptures and it can range from mild to very severe. 

How to Diagnose a Baker’s Cyst

The most common way for your doctor to diagnose a baker’s cyst is with a physical exam. However, it’s possible some of the symptoms and signs may mimic a different condition, such as a tumor, blood clot, or aneurysm. Due to the possibility of a serious issue, your doctor may use the following options to diagnose a Baker’s cyst:

  • X-Ray – It may not show the cyst, but it will be able to show arthritis in your knee, which is a common cause of a Baker’s cyst.
  • MRI or Magnetic Resonance Imaging – This type of test will provide more information on what is causing the cyst.
  • Ultrasound – This painless test will show if a lump in the back of your knee is fluid or solid.

If you’ve started to feel swelling and pain behind your knee, it’s time to see a doctor. Any bulge behind your knee could be a sign of a Baker’s cyst and you want to make sure it’s properly diagnosed and treated.

Baker’s Cyst Treatment

You can start the treatment at home by icing the back of your kneed and taking an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory, such as ibuprofen. Resting your leg will help and keeping it raised above the level of your heart will help to keep swelling down.

The best at-home treatment is R.I.C.E. or Rest Ice Compression and Elevation. If you notice pain or swelling behind your knee, you should reduce your physical activity until you can see a doctor.

Once your doctor has diagnosed your issue as a Baker’s cyst, they will likely suggest one of the following treatment options:

  • Exercise – Physical therapy may be used to help improve range of motion and strengthen the muscles around your knee. This could help to ease the pain and symptoms of a Baker’s cyst.
  • Steroids – Your doctor may prescribe steroids to help lessen the inflammation.
  • Aspiration – It’s common for a doctor to drain the cyst. This is often done with the help of an ultrasound but may not work if your Baker’s cyst is very severe.
  • Surgery – If your cyst is causing serious pain, it’s possible you may need surgery to treat the issue.

If you notice your leg is turning darker or red, make sure to see your doctor immediately. This is a sing the Baker’s cyst could have burst and you might even notice some fluid leaking out. 

Possible Complications with a Baker’s Cyst

It’s not common to experience complications with a Baker’s cyst. however, if the cyst bursts, it will leak synovial fluid into your calf. This may cause swelling, sharp pain, and redness. 

The Long-Term Outlook for a Baker’s Cyst

If you suffer from a Baker’s cyst and you have to see a doctor, you won’t need to worry about long-term damage. However, it can be rather uncomfortable and annoying until it has fully healed. In most cases, your condition will improve over time or with the right surgery. It’s very rare for patients to suffer long-term disability from a Baker’s cyst.

Can I Prevent a Baker’s Cyst?

Prevention is possible if you can avoid knee injuries. Wearing the correct shoes when you work out or play sports is a good start. You should always warm-up before exercise and if you do suffer a knee injury, get it treated immediately.

Schedule an Appointment Today!

Dr. Andrachuk offers plenty of experience in diagnosing and treating Baker’s cysts. If you’re experiencing pain or swelling behind your knee, it’s time to seek medical help. Make sure you see a doctor immediately if you notice any redness or fluid drainage. 

Dr. Andrachuk offers multiple treatment options including minimally invasive techniques and conservative treatments. Contact us today and schedule your in-person or telemedicine appointment!