Baker's Or Synovial Cyst

by Craig W. Goodhart, MD 20. February 2015 19:40

Baker cyst is a fluid-filled cavity that causes a bulge in the back of the knee. It is not a cancer. When painful, the intensity will get worse with bending and straightening of the knee. The cyst is usually caused by a problem in the knee such as arthritis or meniscal tears. The cyst may cause pain but treating the underlying problem will get rid of or reduce the size of the cyst. Pain and swelling in the knee other are the symptoms of a Baker’s cyst. Stiffness and cramping also may be present.

Baker’s cyst may leak or burst into the calf region leading to an increase in sharp pain, swelling and/or redness in the calf. These signs are similar to those of a blood clot and if they occur medical attention should be obtained immediately to rule out a blood clot.

What should you do for treatment?

If the cyst is causing pain or persistent stiffness the following may help:

  • Use of  ice or cold pack
  • Resting the leg
  • NSAIDs (Aleve or Advil)
  • Knee sleeve or brace for compression

What is the surgical treatment?

Many times no treatment is necessary and the cyst may disappear on its own Medications such, as a steroid injection often times is helpful for the pain and swelling. Episodic drainage of the fluid filled cysts may be helpful. Physical therapy may be helpful in some cases.

The surgical treatment for a synovial cyst occurs by treating the underlying problem such as arthritis or a meniscal tear. If either of these is present a knee arthroscopy may be helpful and should cause the cyst to be less painful. You and your doctor may decide that a Baker cyst removal is an option for a cyst if it is repeatedly refills after it has been drained several times.

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