Baker’s cyst (Popliteal cyst)

Are you experiencing pain or swelling at the back of your knee? Or perhaps you are experiencing a slight stiffness and a decreased amount of movement. If you answered yes, you may have a Baker’s cyst. Read on to find out the causes and symptoms of a Baker’s cyst.

What is it?

A baker’s cyst is also known as a popliteal cyst. It is a fluid filled lump created at the back of the knee (popliteal fossa) when too much fluid (synovial fluid) is produced in the knee joint.

Synovial fluid is the lubricating fluid for your knee joint that is encapsulated by what is called a joint capsule. A Baker’s cyst is a bulging of this joint capsule at the back of the knee.

What causes it?

Sometimes, the knee joint produces too much lubricating fluid (synovial fluid). This can cause the excess fluid to produce a bulge in the joint capsule at the back of the knee. The excess fluid production can be due to arthritis or an injury such as a cartilage tear.

Common symptoms

Quite often, a Baker’s cyst causes no pain. It is not unusual for someone to have a Baker’s cyst and not even realise it.

If the Baker’s cyst is causing symptoms, they may include:
Pain in the knee, most commonly the back of the knee and down into the calf.
Swelling at the back of the knee.
Knee stiffness, most notably the inability to fully bend the knee.
In some cases it may feel like the knee is going to give way or it may feel weaker than the other knee.

How long does it take to get better?

Baker’s cysts normally take 6-12 months to resolve but some may reduce in as little at 2-4 weeks with the right care. If you are experiencing worsening symptoms, do not ignore this as the cyst has the potential to worsen or even rupture (in rare cases).

How do we get it better?

Our physiotherapist’s at BodyViva will guide you with strategies to reduce pain and swelling. Gentle movement and strengthening exercises for your knee may also be required to help reduce the symptoms and maintain knee function. It is important to have your knee assessed if you are experiencing these symptoms as, in rare cases, more sinister conditions can cause similar symptoms.

Are you experiencing pain or swelling at the back of the knee? Therapy with one of our highly trained professionals could help revitalise your body. Contact us today to discover how our services can help you live a life free from pain. BodyViva is a multidisciplinary clinic specialising in physiotherapy, podiatry, acupuncture, remedial massage and pilates.