Also known as a popliteal cyst, a Baker’s cyst is a fluid-filled cyst that causes a bulge and feeling of tightness behind the knee. Though rare, a Baker’s cyst can potentially cause pain, especially when the knee is fully flexed or extended.

A Baker’s cyst is caused by a problem in the knee joint, such as arthritis or torn cartilage. The most common type of arthritis associated with Baker’s cyst is osteoarthritis. Both arthritis and cartilage tears can result in excessive fluid production and, in turn, lead to the development of a Baker’s cyst.

Patients who opt to visit our world-renowned facilities receive an unparalleled quality of service. The orthopedic surgeons at the Knee Surgery Center of Excellence are leading experts in their field, and we formulate individualized treatment plans for patients with all different types of knee conditions. Discover the La Peer experience first hand by contacting us at 888.429.6865.

How Are Baker’s Cysts Diagnosed?

During a physical exam, an orthopedic doctor will analyze the back of the knee for a cyst. Shining a light through the cyst can determine if the cyst is fluid filled. A test to determine the range of motion of the knee will also be administered. If the patient’s knee shows signs of catching, locking or pain, this may be an indication that there is a torn meniscus.

An x-ray will not show the Baker’s cyst or the tear, but may help to determine if arthritis or other problems are present. MRI’s can help the doctor to see the cyst and identify a torn meniscus.

bakers-cyst-torn-meniscus-los-angelesWhat Is the Treatment?

In many cases, no treatment is required for a Baker’s cyst. The doctor will watch the cyst over time to determine if there are any changes. Often rest and elevation of the leg are all that is required. Over the counter pain medications or anti-inflammatory medications may be used to help soothe pain. In some cases, the cyst will be drained in conjunction with the administration of cortisone injections. In rare cases when the cyst becomes too large, it will be surgically removed.

If the cyst is painful, then the goal will be to treat the cause of the cyst, such as a meniscus tear or arthritis. If the underlying cause of the Baker’s cyst is not addressed, there is a high probability of it returning.

A surgical procedure to remove the swollen tissue that leads to the cyst formation may be required. This is most commonly done through arthroscopic surgery, during which the internal structure of the joint is examined by inserting a viewing instrument called an arthroscope into a small incision in the knee.

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Outlook for Recovery

The outlook for patients who have a Baker’s cyst is very good. Though pain may be an issue for some, there is little risk of long-term disability and most patients will improve with time and/or arthroscopic surgery.

Baker’s Cyst FAQ’s

Q: Who is typically affected by Baker’s cysts?

A: One in three people with an existing knee problem are likely to develop a Baker’s cyst. Baker’s cysts are most common in children between 4 and 7 and adults ages 35 to 70.

Q: Does being overweight affect the chances of getting a Baker’s cyst?

A: Weight is irrelevant.  No studies show Baker’s cyst being more common in overweight patients.

Q: If I receive cortisone injections, what side effects may I experience?

A: The most common side effect of cortisone injections is the “cortisone flare,” a condition in which numbing medication given with a cortisone shot has not kicked in and causes a brief period of pain. Another common side effect is whitening of the skin where injections are given superficially, which is only a concern in patients with darker skin.

Contact a Knee Surgeon in Los Angeles

The Knee Surgery Center of Excellence at La Peer Health Systems in Los Angeles boasts some of the most renowned orthopedic surgeons in the country. We utilize the latest and most effective procedures when treating Baker’s cysts. To schedule a consultation with one of our talented knee surgeons, call 888.429.6865 or fill out our contact form.

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