What is a Baker’s Cyst?
Baker’s Cyst commonly known as a popliteal cyst is a swelling in the popliteal space or the knee joint protruding to the back of the knee. It is a pocket of fluid that forms a bulge and gives a feeling of tightening and pain (can increase at the time of extension of the knee or when a person is active). This cyst is named after the physician who initially described the condition, the British surgeon William Morrant Baker.
A baker’s cysts may develop when a person is suffering from any of the following conditions:
- Injury: Injury or trauma to the knee such as cartilage tear
- Osteoarthritis: Wear and tear of the joints
- Gout: Excessive (hyperuricemia) level of uric acid in the blood causes urate crystals to build up around the joints
- Psoriasis: Pain and inflammation in the joints
- Septic arthritis: Caused by bacterial infection
- Hemophilia: Medical condition where the blood does not clot efficiently and drain
- Reactive arthritis: Chronic or long-term arthritis which causes inflammation of eyes, joints, genital, urinary or gastrointestinal system
- Lupus: Auto-immune disease which attacks the normal and healthy tissue of the body system
- Rheumatoid arthritis: Kind of arthritis inflammation
- Knee-joint injury
- Torn meniscus
Sometimes people are unaware of its presence because it usually does not cause any pain. Some symptoms may include:
- Knee and calf pain
- Swelling behind the which may get worse while standing
- Stiffness or tightness in the knee
- Restriction to the movement of the knee
- Pressure at the back of the knee joint
- Fluid accumulation around the knee
Firstly the doctor will examine the knee and check the range of motion to see how many portions of the knee is affected. Then doctors recommend a few imaging tests which include:
- Joint X-Ray
- CT Scan
- Swelling in the calf
- Severe pain
- Redness in the calf
- Feeling of water trickling down the calf
Sometimes the Baker’s cyst disappear on its own, but if the cyst is large and causes pain, then doctors may recommend the following:
- Fluid drainage: Drain the fluid with the help of a needle through the process called needle aspiration.
- Medication: Injecting a corticosteroid medication can reduce the bulge and pain, but it does not prevent the cyst from recurrence.
- Icing: Useful in reducing the inflammation and pain but direct contact of ice with skin can be harmful
- Compression bandages: Supports the knee
- Crutches: Helps to reduce the pressure on the patella
- Resting: Avoid much walking or running and exposure to the sun which can even irritate
The time taken to improve depends on the form of the treatment given to a patient. If medications or injections are applied on the knee, then it can take a time of days or week. If the procedure is done surgically, then it takes one to three months.
- Warm up the knee joints before sport activities
- Wear supportive footwear
- Try to turn the feet balls rather than the balls of the knees
- Cool down after performing sustained and gentle stretches
- Stop action after knee injury and seek medical care