Baker's cyst: Description, Causes and Risk Factors:Alternative Name: Hernia of the knee joint, popliteal cyst.A Baker's cyst is an accumulation of joint fluid (synovial fluid), behind the knee. A Baker's cyst is usually the result of a problem within the knee joint, such as arthritis or a cartilage (meniscus) tear. Both conditions can cause the knee joint to produce excess joint fluid, which accumulates in the back of the knee.The structures within your knee rely on a lubricating fluid called synovial fluid. This fluid helps your legs swing smoothly and reduces the friction on the moving parts of the knee. Synovial fluid passes through pouches, called bursa, throughout the knee. A valve-like system between the back of the knee and the bursa on the back of the knee regulates the amount of fluid going in and out of the bursa. Sometimes the knee produces too much synovial fluid, usually due to meniscal tear, or, in an older person, arthritis. When the bursa in the back of the knee fills with excessive synovial fluid, the result is a bulge, called a Baker's cyst.Usually, a Baker's cyst does not cause long term harm. They typically occur in the elderly, but occasionally also in children. They occur in approximately 6 % of healthy individuals older than 50 years, and in 20 % of people with chronic knee pain. Large cysts, more than 2 inches in diameter, may lead to some knee discomfort, such as:Impairment of bending of the knee.
Fullness, tightness, or stiffness behind the knee.
A palpable or visible swelling.
Symptoms:Baker's cysts may have no symptoms. If symptoms occur, they can include:A pronounced soft lump or swelling on the back of the knee.
The lump looks most obvious when the person is standing.
A sensation of pressure in the back of the knee joint.
Persistent pain or aching.
Restricted mobility of the joint.
A sensation of tightness at the back of the knee when the leg is straightened.
Diagnosis:The diagnosis of a Baker's cyst can be suspected in the office setting, by visualinspection and palpation of the back of the knee. A non-invasive test, such as an MRI,can confirm the suspected diagnosis. If your doctor suspects a blood clot in the back ofyour knee or lower leg, due to excessive swelling, he or she may order an ultrasound testfor a definitive diagnosis.Treatment:Treatment is not always the same, because it is based on cause. Typically, an orthopedic surgeon will treat the underlying cause rather than the Baker's cyst itself. If your doctor determines that a meniscus tear is the cause, he or she will recommend arthroscopic surgery to repair or remove the torn meniscus, subsequently resulting in the body's resorption of the cyst.If the cyst is the result of an arthritic knee, your doctor may aspirate (drain) any excess synovial fluid from the knee and inject a corticosteroid medication, such as cortisone. This may relieve pain, but does not always prevent recurrence of the cyst.Aspirating the Baker's cyst itself is not effective, as it will often reaccumulate.Physical therapy can be helpful for reducing swelling and improving overall knee strength and function. Physiotherapy involving ice packs, the use of crutches and exercises to maintain mobility and strength.Disclaimer: The above information is educational purpose. The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition.DISCLAIMER: This information should not substitute for seeking responsible, professional medical care.
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