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Orthopedic Surgery Knee Injury Clinic

Baker’s cysts also known as a popliteal cyst or synovial cyst, are fluid-filled lumps or sacs that form behind an individual’s knee. This condition can be caused by a knee injury or arthritis. An individual with Baker’s cyst may not experience any symptoms.

Causes of Baker’s Cyst

Baker’s cyst results from damage that causes swelling in the knee. These include:

  • Arthritis
  • Direct damage to the knee
  • Inflammation
  • Gout

Symptoms of Baker’s Cyst

  • Pain in the knee
  • Stiffness of the knee
  • A fluid-filled lump behind the knee
  • Swelling of the knee and/or leg
  • Limited range of motion and knee flexion

Swelling and redness in the lower leg from a Baker’s cyst can occasionally resemble those from a blood clot.

Diagnosis of Baker’s Cyst

During the diagnosis of Baker’s cyst, the doctor may recommend several tests to confirm the Baker’s cyst and the cause. The tests may include:

  • X-ray: Although Baker’s cyst itself may not be detected by this test, it can be utilized to determine whether one has knee arthritis, which is one of the potential causes of Baker’s cyst.
  • Ultrasound: An ultrasound is a quick and painless test that uses sound waves to identify if a mass is solid or fluid.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans: An MRI uses magnetic waves to provide detailed images of the inside of the body. This examination may give the doctor more details regarding the potential causes of Baker’s cyst.

Treatment of Baker’s Cyst

The initial treatment options for Baker’s cyst are non-surgical. Sports medicine doctors and orthopedic surgeons highly recommend a treatment strategy known as RICE: Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation to soothe swelling from joint damage.

Non-surgical treatment of Baker’s Cyst

The doctor will often recommend that the patient starts with nonsurgical treatment for Baker’s cyst. Usually, an individual can do these activities on his/her own at home to reduce the symptoms.

The nonsurgical treatment options may include the following:

  • Resting the leg whenever possible
  • Applying ice to the knee
  • The use of compression wraps on the knee to decrease the degree of swelling of the joint
  • Elevating the knee while he/she is resting
  • Maintaining a healthy body weight. This will help reduce pressure on the joints
  • The use of crutches or cane when walking
  • Avoid knee-straining activities like jogging

Surgical treatment of Baker’s cyst

The doctor may recommend surgery as a treatment option if:

  • The knee pain is severe
  • The patient is unable to move the knee well (limited range of motion)

The following are surgical options for Baker’s cyst:

  • Knee Osteotomy: During this procedure, the surgeon will cut part of the bone in order to correct the damage.
  • Cyst draining: This treatment entails draining the fluid out of the cyst with a needle.
  • Arthroscopic Knee Surgery: Also known as knee scoping, this is whereby the surgeon makes a small cut in the knee and inserts an arthroscope-a flexible tool with a camera on the end.

Recovery After Knee Surgery

Individual recovery time may differ. For instance, when recovering from knee surgery, what one individual goes through might not be what you go through. The following are some of the tips one should have in mind during the recovery period:

  • Taking pain relief medication and antibiotics as directed by the doctor
  • Physical therapy to strengthen the knee
  • Avoid strenuous activities
  • Attending follow-up visits after the procedure
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