A Baker’s cyst is a swelling at the back of the knee caused by outpouching of the normal synovial fluid found in the knee joint.
A Baker’s cyst, also known as a popliteal cyst, is a swelling at the back of the knee caused by outpouching of the normal synovial fluid found in the knee joint. They are usually visible as a soft bulge behind the knee and are more prominent when standing. Normally, these cysts do not cause symptoms and are nontender. However, knee stiffness or pain can occur especially when the knee is in full extension. Knee arthritis is the most common cause of Baker’s cysts, however these cysts can also occur when associated with injury to the knee such as meniscal tears. These cysts usually do not need any formal treatment, especially if they do not cause any discomfort. If the cyst is associated with pain and discomfort, your doctor may perform an ultrasound guided aspiration to drain the cyst. Sometimes just draining the cyst is not a definitive treatment and these cysts can recur. In these cases, a more formal surgical approach may be indicated to completely resolve the source of the cyst (i.e. knee arthroscopy, please see “Knee Arthroscopy” under our Treatments section for more information on this). It is not uncommon for a Baker’s cyst to rupture on its own, leaving a painless bruising under the skin usually seen down at the level of the ankle.
Every patient receives an in-depth consultation to devise a treatment plan that is right for their problem. Our specialists prefer non-operative and non-invasive treatments whenever possible, including physical therapy, medications, and/or injections. When we require surgery, we will then use minimally invasive surgical techniques to fix your problem, whether it is fixing a broken bone or repairing a tendon. Our goal is always to get you back to living your life normally as soon as possible.