PT eDigest

BakerThe Recipe to Relieve a Baker Cyst

If you suffer from knee pain, the culprit might be a Baker cyst, an accumulation of joint fluid that creates a bulge at the back of the knee. The bulge is noticeable, and a physician can usually diagnose it accurately by taking a history and feeling for the swelling behind the knee. Most people will find pain and pressure are their first symptoms. Other symptoms include stiffness behind the knee, swelling and difficulty moving normally.

People more likely to develop a Baker cyst are those with an inflammation of the knee joint that occurs with joint conditions such as arthritis. Knee injuries such as a cartilage tear can also make you more prone to suffer from a Baker cyst. Some people find that pain increases when they participate in activities such as stair climbing, cycling and running, or squatting and kneeling. 

The cyst can continue to fill up with fluid, leading to increased pressure. Without treatment, it can rupture and lead to even more knee pain, as well as a limp when walking. For this reason, it is important to obtain physical therapy right away.

Conservative treatment without surgery is successful for most people. Physical therapy can assist by minimizing the accumulation of fluid and improving the health of your knee and surrounding muscles. Available treatment options include

  • Ÿ  cryotherapy to “freeze” the cyst
  • Ÿ  rest 
  • Ÿ  anti-inflammatory medications (if your physician approves)
  • Ÿ  knee brace for comfort and protection
  • Ÿ  controlled exercises to strengthen leg muscles
  • Ÿ  soft-tissue massage
  • Ÿ  a stretching program to increase knee flexibility

Baker cysts can recur; however, the good news is that with our continued support, you can help to prevent the cyst from enlarging and causing you further discomfort.