What Is a Baker's Cyst?


Quick Answer

A Baker's cyst is a lump or bulge that is caused by a build-up of fluid that collects behind the knee joint. Also called a popliteal cyst, it normally results from arthritis in the knee or torn cartilage, according to Mayo Clinic.

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What Is a Baker's Cyst?
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Full Answer

Mayo Clinic explains that knee joints produce synovial fluid, a lubricating fluid that helps reduce friction and allows the joint to move more easily. When the knee becomes arthritic, or there is torn cartilage, the knee overproduces synovial fluid and forms a cyst. The most common symptoms are pain when bending or straightening the knee, stiffness, tightness and swelling behind the knee. Symptoms tend to flare up immediately following activity, or while standing for extended periods of time.

Mayo Clinic states that the condition can usually be diagnosed with a physical examination of the knee. Because the symptoms can sometimes mimic other ailments, a physician may order an MRI or ultrasound to confirm the diagnosis. Treatment for a Baker's cyst depends on the cause of the condition.

WebMD notes that while the cyst may go away without any treatment, a physician can treat the underlying problems that cause it, in which case the symptoms usually disappear. For example, treating arthritis can help to alleviate pain and swelling in the vicinity of the cyst. In more severe cases, other treatment options include draining the fluid, injecting medicine or performing surgery to remove the cyst.

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