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Baker's Cyst

What is Baker's Cyst?

Baker's cyst is an accumulation of joint fluid that forms behind the knee. A Baker's cyst usually does not cause any long-term harm, but can be annoying and painful.

Baker's cyst is also called a popliteal cyst.

What Causes Baker's Cyst?

Baker's cyst may be formed by the connection of a normal bursa with the knee joint. This type of Baker's cyst is more common in children.

Baker's cyst can also be caused by the herniation of the knee joint capsule out into the back of the knee. This type is more common in adults. It is commonly associated with a tear in the meniscal cartilage of the knee. In older adults, this condition is frequently associated with degenerative arthritis of the knee.

Symptoms of Baker's Cyst

The most common symptoms of Baker's cyst are:

  • Swelling behind your knee, and sometimes in your leg or foot
  • Knee pain
  • Tightness in the back of your knee
  • Stiffness

If the cyst ruptures, pain, swelling, and bruising on the back of the knee and calf will occur.

Can Baker's Cyst be Treated?

Yes. However, often no treatment is necessary. When treatment is necessary, arthroscopic surgery can decompress the cyst and treat any meniscal tear. Arthroscopic surgery is usually performed when the cyst is extremely large or painful. Draining the cyst with a needle is a treatment used to decrease the cyst size but generally the cyst recurs.

Complications of Baker's Cyst

Complications rarely occur. When complications do occur, they include chronic pain and swelling and complications from associated injuries, like meniscal tears.

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