Baker's Cyst, also called popliteal cyst, is a fluid-filled cyst that causes swelling and tightness at the back of the knee. This happens when there is an excess knee joint fluid compressed by the weight of the body in between the bones found in the knee joint. The fluid gets trapped and forms the Baker's cyst. This condition is named after the physician who discovered it, William Morrant Baker.
What Are the Causes of Baker's Cyst?
Arthritis, particularly osteoarthritis, is the most common cause of Baker's cyst. It doesn't only occur among adults with this form of arthritis but also in children who have juvenile arthritis in the knee. This can also be caused by cartilage tears like torn meniscus, rheumatoid arthritis and other ailments involving the knee.
What Are the Signs and Symptoms?
Knee pain and tightness at the back of the knee are the common symptoms of Baker's cyst. The pain and tension in the muscles are exacerbated when the knee is flexed or extended. There's also a bulge at the back of the knee that is easily noticeable when a person is standing up. The bulge is usually soft and tender.
How is this Diagnosed?
Baker's cysts are generally diagnosed after a doctor's examination and radiological testing. These would include ultrasound, MRI scan, or arthrogram.
How is this Condition Treated?
An effective form of treatment would be to remove the excess knee fluid using a cortisone injection. Medication would then be given to relieve the pain and inflammation. However, if there are cartilage tears or any other internal knee problem, a surgery may be in order. During the surgery, the surgeon will remove the swollen tissue that causes the formation of the cyst. If the cause of the Baker's cyst is arthritis, the doctor may suggest the following techniques to reduce the inflammation:
• PRICE Method
This acronym stands for protection, rest, ice, compression, and elevation.
P: To protect your legs, use crutches so that your knee would not have to bear your weight while you're walking.
R: Rest your leg and avoid walking the whole day.
I: Put ice on the inflamed area to reduce the swelling.
C: You should also compress the knee using a brace or wrap.
E: Don't forget to elevate it especially at night.
• Nonsteroida Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) or Acetaminophen
Examples of NSAIDs are:
These are for pain relief. If you're experiencing great pain, ask for a prescription from your doctor. Prescription NSAIDs are more potent than the over-the-counter variety.
• Physical Activity
As mentioned earlier, someone who has a Baker's cyst should rest plenty. It's important to tone down your physical activity to reduce the irritation in the knee joint. Your doctor will tell you how long you need to rest and when you can go back to your normal routine. For the meantime, you can ask for alternative physical exercises that you can do that won't harm your knee as much.