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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.

Self-care

If your doctor determines that arthritis is causing the cyst, he or she may advise you to take some or all of the following steps to reduce the inflammation and lessen the production of synovial fluid:

  • Follow the P.R.I.C.E. principles. These letters stand for protection, rest, ice, compression and elevation. Protect your leg by using crutches to take the weight off the knee joint and to allow pain-free walking. Rest your leg. Ice the inflamed area. Compress your knee with a wrap. And elevate your leg, especially at night.

  • Try nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or acetaminophen. NSAIDs such as aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others), naproxen (Naprosyn, Aleve, others) and similar drugs can help relieve pain, as can acetaminophen (Tylenol, others). Prescription NSAIDs can provide higher dosages and greater potency than over-the-counter NSAIDs.

  • Scale back your physical activity. Doing so will reduce irritation of your knee joint.

 

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