A Baker's cyst, or popliteal cyst, is treated by managing inflammation with rest, pain-relieving drugs, compression bandages and ice packs, Medical News Today states. Doctors may recommend corticosteroid shots or physical therapy for severe pain and swelling, and in severe cases, cysts may require surgical removal to treat joint damage.
Treatment is rarely necessary for a Baker's cyst that doesn't cause symptoms, according to Mayo Clinic. Physicians typically try to address any underlying causes for the cyst, such as cartilage damage. If the inflamed tissue doesn't pose any long-term risks, doctors focus on reducing the swelling with medication or fluid drainage. The latter method usually involves observing the knee joint using an ultrasound device and inserting a needle to extract excess fluid.
If surgery is required, doctors often conduct an arthroscopy to examine the inside of the knee joint, Medical News Today explains. The surgeon makes a small cut near the joint and inserts a thin, fiber-optic instrument, known as an arthroscope, to illuminate the area, capture images and perform surgical repairs.
A Baker's cyst is a fluid-filled bulge that forms behind the knee, which may cause pain during physical activity or when the knee moves between flexed and extended positions, Mayo Clinic notes. The cyst develops from a buildup of synovial fluid, which is a naturally occurring substance that lubricates the knee and enables smooth motion.