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Exercise can help relieve pain from Baker's cyst

Exercise can help relieve pain from Baker's cyst
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Baker’s cysts

A Baker’s cyst, or popliteal cyst, is a fluid filled lump or swelling behind the knee. It is usually caused by excess fluid that comes from the knee joint.

People with a Baker’s cyst might also have arthritis or an injury such as a torn cartilage in their knee.

Baker’s cyst symptoms

If the cyst is small, you might not notice it.

Otherwise, you may have aching, a swelling or lump behind your knee, or feel pressure when you straighten your leg.

Your doctor can often diagnose a Baker’s cyst by examining your knee and shining a torch through the lump.

Baker’s cyst complications

Occasionally Baker’s cysts become infected, grow bigger or can bleed.

Sometimes a Baker’s cyst ruptures or bursts, causing pain and swelling in your calf. Your doctor may want to rule out a serious problem such as a blood clot (deep vein thrombosis).

Baker’s cyst treatments

If a child has a painless Baker’s cyst, it can usually be left alone. In children, most Baker’s cysts disappear eventually without treatment.

Adults can ease any pain from a Baker’s cyst with cold packs, or by taking paracetamol or anti-inflammatory medications.

The pain may also ease with physical activities such as walking, swimming or Tai Chi. If you are overweight, losing weight may help.

Taking supplements or wearing a brace is unlikely to help with your symptoms.

If you have a troublesome Baker’s cyst, an injection of corticosteroids into the knee joint can provide relief, but the cyst often comes back.

If the cyst is associated with arthritis, then treating the arthritis can help.

For some people, surgery is needed to fix the cause. For example, repairing a torn cartilage might help. Removing the cyst alone isn’t helpful, as it usually recurs unless the underlying cause is addressed.

Your doctor can advise you on the treatment options that are best for you.

Last reviewed: June 2015

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