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Baker's cyst - popliteal cyst
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Baker's cyst - popliteal cyst
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Baker’s cysts are benign cystic tumors found on the back of the knee joint. The cyst forms with an accumulation of fluid between the 2 groups of muscles behind the knee. This cyst may form from an injury or inflammation of the membrane lining of the knee joint. You notice a bulge behind your knee, and you feel tightness back there, too. The pain gets worse when you fully extend your knee or when you're active.

What could be the cause?

A likely explanation is that you have a Baker's cyst, also called a popliteal cyst. A Baker's cyst is usually the result of a problem with your knee joint, such as arthritis or a cartilage tear. Both conditions can cause your knee to produce too much fluid, which can lead to a Baker's cyst. Treating the larger problem usually relieves the swelling and discomfort of a Baker's cyst.

These cysts occur most often in adults between 55 and 70, and in children between 4 and 7 years old. As many as one in five people with other knee problems develop a Baker's cyst.

Treatment

If the cyst is very large and causes a lot of pain, your doctor may use the following treatments:

  • Fluid drainage. Your doctor may drain the fluid from the knee joint using a needle. This is called needle aspiration.

  • Medication. Your doctor may inject a corticosteroid medication, such as cortisone, into your knee to reduce the volume of fluid being produced. This may relieve pain but doesn't always prevent recurrence of the cyst.

Typically though, doctors treat the underlying cause rather than the Baker's cyst itself.

If your doctor determines that a cartilage tear is causing the overproduction of synovial fluid, he or she may recommend surgery to remove the torn cartilage.

In some instances, particularly if you have osteoarthritis, the cyst may not go away even after your doctor treats the underlying cause. If the cyst doesn't get better, causes pain and interferes with your ability to bend your knee, or if — in spite of aspirations — you still have significant fluid in the cyst that hinders your function, you may need to be evaluated for surgery to remove the cyst.

 

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Last Modified : 03/14/08 07:03 PM