Pain in back of knee may be a Baker’s Cyst

Q: What is a Baker’s Cyst?

A: A Bakers Cyst is a fluid growth that occurs on the back of the knee. It can become hard and very painful.  A Baker’s Cyst can occur in children and adults.

Q: How does it happen?

A: A cyst starts to grow when there is a biomechanical problem adding stress to the joint such as with walking, running, standing and/or posture. It is also called a Popliteal Cyst.  Pulling of the muscles, tendons and ligaments can form swelling and then the cyst will start to form.

Q: What are the symptoms of Baker’s Cysts?

A: Symptoms of Baker’s Cysts can include:

  1. swelling behind the knee which can get to to size of a golf ball
  2. Difficulty and pressure on the joint when bending the knee. This pressure can go all the way down the calf muscle.
  3. Pain and tenderness after exercising

Q: What can be done to help alleviate a baker’s cyst?

A: Rest is the number one way of relieving problems with the cyst. Inflammation will go down and the fluid in the cyst will start to alleviate. Braces can also be worn to reduce the stress on the joint and prevent bad body mechanics which start to build the cyst back up again.

If given time to heal and stress is taken off of the joint, the cyst will get rid of its fluid and disappear.  Did you know that there is a 40% chance that a cyst removed by surgery will reoccur. That is a pretty high percentage!  So, if you can bear it, give it some time to take care of itself instead of opting for invasive surgery.  Once your tissues are cut open, there will be scar tissue left over and it may be hard to recuperate.

It is also important to alleviate the bio-mechanical problem.  It can be caused by uneven leg length, foot problems, tight muscles which add stress to the knee joint, trauma to the knee joint.  Taking care of the cause the cyst occurrence is key.   This will avoid a lot of unnecessary pain and irritation.