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Jonathan Cluett, M.D.

What is a "Baker's Cyst?"

By October 9, 2006

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A Baker's Cyst, also called a 'popliteal cyst,' is a collection of fluid in the back of the knee. Calling this problem a cyst is misleading for patients as a Baker's Cyst is not a growth. A Baker's Cyst is the name given to a collection of fluid in the back of the knee. The fluid within a Baker's Cyst is normal joint fluid that has been over-produced, usually because of inflammation from within the knee. A Baker's Cyst is not a tumor or cancer, and cannot spread to other parts of the body.

The most common causes of Baker's Cysts are the common causes of excess fluid in the knee. These causes of fluid accumulation include:

Treatment of a Baker's Cyst is focused on the treatment of the underlying problem that is causing fluid accumulation within the knee. Often treatments include anti-inflammatory medications, cortisone injections, or may include surgery such as knee arthroscopy.
Comments
October 10, 2006 at 11:23 am
(1) Anne says:

Can you have this on top of the head?

October 10, 2006 at 3:35 pm
(2) orthopedics says:

No. A Baker’s Cyst is specific to the knee. Other types of cysts can be on the head, but a Baker’s Cyst refers specifically to the problem of fluid collection behind the knee.

February 4, 2007 at 11:14 am
(3) Gini says:

I am 56 white female. A recent trip to the ER for a knee injury resulted in a diagnosis of a meniscus tear. The knee injury (which felt like a popped rubber band and sounded like a loud “POP”) turned out to be a rupture of a Baker’s cyst on my left knee. 3-4 days off of the knee helped, but I think it is returning. Don’t want to do surgery yet. Can Baker’s cysts go away without intervention or do I HAVE to pursue more aggressive treatment?

February 5, 2007 at 11:24 am
(4) orthopedics says:

A Baker’s cyst can either resolve over time, or diminish in size. If there is a large meniscus tear causing the cyst, the Baker’s cyst may tend to return if the meniscus tear is left untreated. That said, there is almost never a situation where you have to have further treatment. If you want to live with the symptoms, that is an option. Talk to your doctor about the various alternative treatments.

September 3, 2007 at 7:13 pm
(5) karen says:

can a baker cysts cause swelling in lower leg i had a doppler r/o dvt stated i had a 7 x2.5cm baker cysts and need to the ortho md. once the cyst is drained will my lower leg return to normal

January 28, 2008 at 6:44 pm
(6) Connie says:

I am so very disgusted. I have 2 holes in the front of my knee because back in 2005 I had a cartilege tear and had it taken care of supposedly! I had a baker’s cyst before the dr. told me I had torn cartilege.
The bump is back again. My left knee hurts like crazy. I don’t know whether or not the orthopedic surgeon is liable for this. He is in another state?

September 30, 2008 at 12:32 am
(7) brandie says:

My 7yr old just got diagnosed with a baker cyst on his left knee, is it common for children? All my research shows only adults?

September 30, 2008 at 4:57 pm
(8) orthopedics says:

In answer to a few of the posts, as this blog post explains, a Baker’s cyst is simply a sign of excess fluid within the knee joint–it is not a true cyst.

If you are trying to figure out why you have a Baker’s cyst, you need to figure out what is causing the knee to produce excess fluid.

The Baker’s cyst, in and of itself, is rarely a problem. Most often, it is simply a sign that there is something going on inside the knee to produce excess fluid. Once that excess fluid is present, it often collects in the back of the knee and people call that a Baker’s cyst.

Regards,

Jonathan Cluett, M.D.

October 4, 2008 at 1:34 pm
(9) laDonna says:

Orgionaly the cyst was behind my knee. Can a Baker cyst.tear away,I can press down above my knee cap press it(The cyst) down to my kneecap and watch it move upwards again

October 7, 2008 at 12:06 am
(10) Maddy says:

What is the usual treatment for a ruptured Baker’s Cyst where an MRI shows meniscus tear and fluid running down the inside leg to the calf?

October 12, 2008 at 10:24 am
(11) orthopedics says:

Dear Maddy,

When the cyst ruptures, that is treatment enough. The body will absorb the fluid.

However, as I have said above, if the cuase of the cyst (usually a meniscus tear or cartilage problem) is not addressed, the Baker’s cyst may come back.

Regards,

Jonathan Cluett, MD
About Orthopedics
http://orthopedics.about.com/

October 25, 2008 at 5:04 pm
(12) Lynette says:

I am 4 weeks post total right knee replacement with a hisory of DVT after my left TKR. I just had a doppler/ultrasound of my right leg due to complaints of swelling and pain (my calf was not red) in my right calf, the results were “Bakers Cyst” that was most likly ruptured. Can this be a reoccuring issue after complete healing of a knee replacement? Is there any way to avoid it? Thank you, Lynette

November 29, 2008 at 5:25 pm
(13) SCARLETTE says:

Last year I was diagnosed with a Baker’s cyst behind my right knee then about 7 months later I noticed the same thing behind my left knee. I did PT for a while and was told to continue the exercises at home, which I do periodically. My questions to you are: 1)If the cysts don’t go away, can this turn into something paralyzing as I get older? 2) Is it best for me to consider surgically aspirating both Cysts? 3) Will I still have fluid that should naturally be around my knee joints or will they one day have to inject me with artificial joint fluid? Hope you can answer all my questions. Thank you!

December 1, 2008 at 4:58 am
(14) Maria says:

Had a scare over the weekend. Recently underwent an arthroscopy on my right knee and 17 days later noticed swelling and pain down to my right foot. A trip to the eemergency dept of a public hospital had me fearing DVT. A blood thinning injection was administered and I was sent home with a referral for an ultrasound. Found out today that it was a ruptured Baker’s cyst. My right calf feels quite sore, is certainly still swollen. I was wondering how long will it remain like that? Will the pain and swelling go away? Can anyone please offer me some advice? Thanks,
Maria

January 31, 2009 at 6:41 pm
(15) Lisa says:

My 4 year old son has what appears to be a baker’s cyst. Should I go directly to a pediatric orthopedic practice for a diagnosis?

February 3, 2009 at 6:23 pm
(16) orthopedics says:

Dear Lisa,

Your pediatrician should be able to evaluate this and refer you if needed.

Regards,

Jonathan Cluett, MD
About Orthopedics

February 4, 2009 at 10:05 pm
(17) bev says:

we think our 2 year old has a bakers cyst, we go to a specialist next week to find out for sure. What can we expect at the appointment? (mri, ultrasound, blood work?)

March 24, 2009 at 1:43 pm
(18) Billy says:

I have a ruptured Baker’s cyst, went to community hospital to r/o DVT via Doppler U/S, all negative. What is the treatment for the calf pain and swelling in the leg, ankle, foot?

Thanks,

Billy

March 30, 2009 at 4:35 pm
(19) Jimmy says:

Hello, I bumped into this while trying to figure out what a bakers cyst reawlly was. I’ve had one for about 6 months and it isn’t really bothering me or causing any pain at all. I don’t have any medical insurance so that’s one of the reasons I haven’t see a doctor about it, what is the worse that can happen if left untreated. And how much would it cost for someone with no medical insurance to get this properly treated. I’m 20 years old if that helps, and I’m pretty sure I tore something when I was working out that most likely caused this.

-Thanks

June 14, 2009 at 11:12 am
(20) Gloria says:

I had a xray done in the ER on 6/13/09 they found a cyst of fluid behind the knee cap can you tell me if that has to be remove by surgery or can be treated in other form the cyst according the doctor she said it was small but I am concern about it.

Thank you

Prprinc511@aol.com

June 18, 2009 at 6:34 pm
(21) Agma Bergmann says:

My lower left leg is swollen all the way to my ankle. Yes, I have a small tear in my miniscus and a Baker’s cyst. A cortisone shot was given but, I wonder the reason for the leg being swollen. My job keeps me on my feet most of the day and I try to wear “good” walking shoes. Any idead or should I continue to see the sport orthopedic doctor about this? Thank you.

July 3, 2009 at 9:35 am
(22) Sal says:

Hi.

I just noticed this Baker’s Cyst… as most people here, it’s right on the back of my left knee. I would still not noticed it if my dad didn’t ask “Does that lump hurt?”… he even said he saw it since few days ago. It doesn’t hurt at all, even when I push it so hard, it just doesn’t hurt. I don’t know if it’s Baker’s Cyst, but if not, then what could it be?

You (Jonathan Cluett) said this lump may be caused by Meniscus Tear, and I’m guessing I have it… or some other type of Arthritis and if yes, it’s been there since I’m about 10 years old? (Now I’m 23)

My other issues:

1) I can’t fully bend my left knee (comparing it with the right knee). It doesn’t hurt when I bend my knee, but whenever I force to completely bend it, then there the pain comes.

2) My left knee (the upper-left side if you look at it, or the upper-right if I myself look at it) will feel hurt when the weather is cold or bad, or even if the weather is Ok as long as it’s (bad) cold. When I hold that knee part, it hurts. And when I bend that knee, it now hurts. And when all these happen, that knee part feels warm.

Any opinion on my issues?

Very much thanks.

July 10, 2009 at 2:30 pm
(23) Kristen says:

My son was diagnosed with a Baker’s cyst 5 years ago. It has never gone away, and has never bothered him. He is 12 now and last week we noticed one on his other knee and it is a lot larger than the other and it hurts to straighten and bend it. He says the pain is about a 6 or 7 out of 10 sometimes. These are not the result of any injury. He hasn’t done anything out of the ordinary. His dr. referred us to a pediatric surgeon, but can’t see us for 2 weeks. My questions for you are: 1. I was wanting to know if this is rare for it to occur in both knees? 2. Are there any alternative remedies besides ice and ibuprofen to help, like anything to do with diet, etc.? Thank you!

June 13, 2010 at 8:58 pm
(24) Carol says:

My husband had a baker’s cyst removed from behind his left knee a few weeks ago. He still has incredible pain in his thigh and I can feel pockets of fluid in the back of his thigh (they “pop” when I run my hand over them). Can you tell me what this fluid is from and will the pain go away? We thought that his pain would go away after the cyst was removed. The pain seems to be worse and not resolved from the surgery.

June 22, 2010 at 2:00 pm
(25) Betsey Locke says:

Can you get a Bakers Cyst with an artificial knee? I have a recurring problem where my left TKR periodically feels like I can’t straighten it all the way, hurts when I try, but resolves itself after I walk on it for a while. It feels swollen behind the knee and I can see some fluid at the base of the incision. I had the TKR done on both knees in 2001 — right knee doesn’t give me any trouble.

May 30, 2011 at 4:23 pm
(26) Liz says:

Do Baker’s cyst ever occur on the back of the thigh?

August 7, 2011 at 8:14 pm
(27) Rosa says:

After 8 weeks of having a 14cm bakers cyst ruptured in my left leg behind the knee I am experiencing a lot of swelling and pain in the knee and lower leg I am due to fly to Europe on the 30 of this month for a months holiday. It is giving me a lot of trouble walking and I would like to know what/ what else I can do to ensure that it does not spoil the holiday.

August 31, 2011 at 12:28 pm
(28) Zena says:

I had a ruptured bakers cyst two weeks ago which cause acute swelling, bruised leg and have been unable to walk properly ever since. I am unable to keep my foot flat on the ground and limping.

Can anyone tell me whether I should avoid flying as I am due to travel on an 18 hour flight in 4 weeks time.

thank you

September 18, 2011 at 6:32 am
(29) Theresa Rauch says:

Well I will try and make this short! I was having knee pain in the back of my leg. Very painful went to Orth and than for a MRI that determined that there was a femoral patellar cyst. some degeneration and effusion and hmm maybe thats it I don’t have the MRI infront of me. Well I was trying to hang a picture and thought I would stand on a piece of furniture and heard a LOUD POP with that I screamed and cried and can’t walk. Meeting a doc at the ER today. Any thoughts on what that may be..

Thank you
Help Please

February 14, 2012 at 1:43 pm
(30) Gail says:

what hapens when the baker cyst is on the never and can it be fixed? please help i am in so munch pain. thankyou Gail

March 6, 2012 at 11:32 am
(31) Kathlene says:

Several years ago I was diagnosed with a Bakers cyst behind my left knee. It impaired my range of motion and interupted my routine of daily walking so I had it removed. Now that same knee began popping as I walk. The popping makes my leg ache. I incorporated a regime of stretching and deep massage as per my chiropractor. So my question is can the cyst have returned? Will stretching and deep massage help? Its taking a long time. I am 55, female.

April 8, 2012 at 7:29 am
(32) Jules says:

During the last week I have developed a severe swelling on BOTH behind my knees, there is minor pain, also when legs are rested. Bulges feel relatively soft when I touch them.
Is it possible or rather unlikely to have developed bakers cysts on BOTH knees?
I have to add that, after not doing any physical exercises for a long time, I had started doing yoga again about 3 or 4 weeks ago, pretty regularly, almost every day, and there is some considerable stretching of the knees/legs involved. Could that have something to do with it?

In addition to the swelling I have been experiencing some dizziness within the last few days, especially when walking around- could this be related??

I am very worried and my appointment isn’t for another 3 weeks, please help me.

Regards

J.K.

April 20, 2012 at 10:24 am
(33) Megan says:

I’ve had a Baker’s cyst for a little more than a year now. It’s gone away then it came back then it felt like it moved down to my calf when I was jumping then another one appeared. Now the newest one just burst or moved down my leg and it hurts much more than the others. My question is, can a Baker’s cyst move down the leg and rest between muscles? Or did it just burst and the pain has never gone away? I am so sick of this. I like to run and bike for exercise and this is keeping me down and out.

May 8, 2012 at 9:50 pm
(34) Larry says:

Had TKR two years ago and while my new knees are much better, they remained swollen and I had a little “background” pain in my right knee. Two weeks ago my cat tripped my going down the stairs. I didn’t fall, but bounce with both legs hitting the steps several times pretty had. Was worried about my knees, but they seemed to be OK. About two days later had a bad cramp at night in my right calf. Hurt like the dickens. Next few days I was in lots of pain and at times could not walk easily. Went to my family physician and he immediately order a doppler US to check for thrombosus(sp). No blockage was found, but the US tech told me there was a lot of fluid in the back of my knee and into my calf. Today I got the final report and it is highly suspected that I had a Baker’s cyst rupture. Family Dr. suggested Ibupropen and heat pads as needed. Also talked to my Ortho Surg nurse and she said my problem was not uncommon and not to worry about it from an artificial knee point of view. She also suggested IB and heat treatment. So where am I today. The calf pain has reduced significantly. Still limp a little at times, but tolerable. I do seems to have a positive benefit and the swelling that I have lived with since replacement surgey has gone down significantly and my knee pain seems less. By the way, both the doctor and the nurse said the pain could last 4-8 weeks, but continually get better to where I just will not notice it any more. They did not limit my activities any, saying I wouldn’t make it worse.

June 16, 2012 at 11:23 am
(35) giovanni giordani says:

I had an mri which showed my bakers cyst had ruptured and the fluid had run down the inside of my calf. I understand that that should be treatment enough, but that was almost a month ago! I am still unable to bend my knee properly and it is still painful to walk and especially painful going up and down stairs. There is still swelling (fluid) at the front and back of the knee and am still taking naproxen and codeine but to no avail. I am due to have a cortisone injection in a week’s time which will hopefully resolve the problem. Is it usual for the pain to continue for this length of time? My physio said that he couldn’t really help me until the inflammation had gone down or if I had more extension of the knee. Is there anything else to be done (i do the ice treatment)? Do Osmosis patches work? Help!!!!!

July 1, 2012 at 8:29 am
(36) Elizabeth McDaniel says:

I had a total left knee replacement five years ago. Several times since then my knee would suddenly swell (in a couple of minutes) to the point I cannot bend it and it feels like everything inside is disconnected. There is severe pain. No MD was willing to draw off the fluid for fear of infection until about two weeks ago. That doc found pure blood–no infection. He passed me off to a “more experienced” ortho doc who says it is a mystery. Of course nothing shows on CT scan or x-rays and I can’t have an MRI. Could this be a Baker’s Cyst? I had decided that my kneecap (which is ragged) is cutting into my vessels and when this happens, my knee and calf suddenly fill with blood. What should I do next? I’m afraid to go out walking in case this should happen. Help!!!

July 31, 2012 at 5:39 am
(37) natalie says:

I have a baker’s cyst at the back of my left knee that Ihave had for some time that tighten’s up from time to time when exercising but now my leg has compleatly swelled up from the knee down to my foot and it is very tight and uncomfortable what should I do to releave this .The hospital thought that I had a blood clot so they put me on fragmin injections after I failed the blood test and the moniter test but the scan did not ditect a blood clot so i am back to square one .l

July 15, 2013 at 2:36 am
(38) Cathy says:

I had a bakers cyst behind my left knee about 5 months ago, and looks like I have another or the same one is rearing it’s ugly head, I have advanced Ostia arthritis in both knees. Is this normal to get a second cyst? Do I need treatment this time? Talk of dvt’s also is scaring me :( any advice appreciated

November 4, 2013 at 11:45 am
(39) Regina says:

I have had excessive leg pain especially behing my knee. I couldn’t move my leg for hours last night experiencing sharp pains. I have no insurance but a trip to the ER was definately necessary for the pain. Today there is still pain but now a dull, achy feeling. I’m scared this may be a DVT.

November 14, 2013 at 7:47 pm
(40) sharont says:

I had a Baker’s cyst rupture about 3 weeks ago. I still have swelling and the dr said it’ll take from 4 to 6 weeks for all the pain and swelling to go away. My concern is that yesterday I noticed that the “clicking” from a meniscus tear. Can a Baker’s cyst reoccur after it’s ruptured? How long does it take for it to reoccur? I know I need to have surgery for the meniscus tear but I would like to wait until the spring before having surgery. Can I do that without having to worry about another rupture?

December 5, 2013 at 10:53 am
(41) Monica says:

I’m a 30 yr old female. that recently had severe swelling in my right knee, which lasted almost two months. my orthpedist originally thought it was a torn meniscus. After an MRI, I was told it was inflammation and a Bakers cysts. The swelling has since gone down, until about 4 days ago I started hearign poppingn oise everytiem I bent my knee, now I have slight swelling again and mild pain on the inside of my right knee. Is this normal? is it just the inflammation?

December 27, 2013 at 8:39 pm
(42) Ellie says:

I have recently been diagnosed with a bakers cyst behind my right knee, it has also been confirmed that there is signs the cyst has ruptured recently my knee looks very yellow and the pain is increasing, any ideas on what to do?

January 21, 2014 at 12:42 am
(43) Linda says:

I just had this morning both my knees aspirated and cortisone injections in my bakers cysts. I have had 1 knee done before and the pain wasn’t too bad but this time the pain was very bad. I then went to walk and my right leg was totally numb and I had no feeling for about 15 minutes. This was very scary. Has this happened to anyone before?

February 21, 2014 at 10:51 am
(44) Nancy says:

I too am 4 months post op from TKR and calf pain has returned. At Pre. Op .. Three Drs said this pain was result of aBakers Cyst in the knee and the TKR would remove the cause. Yikes … Pain is a PAIN! Could damage causing the swelling resulting in condition called Bakers Cyst return? What can be done?

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