Popliteal Cyst (Bakers Cyst)

Bakers Cyst diagram

A popliteal cyst is also called a baker’s cyst

What is a Popliteal Cyst?

A popliteal cyst, also known as a baker’s cyst, is a golf ball sized swelling that develops at the back of the knee. The cyst forms when the synovial fluid within the knee joint increases because of an injury or infection. The fluid then spills into a small sac of fluid (bursa) in the hollow at the back of the knee, causing it to increase in size and form a cyst.

A popliteal cyst can develop as a result of a torn meniscus or any type of damage within the knee joint. In older athletes, arthritis is a possible cause.

Symptoms of a Popliteal Cyst

Aside from the obvious golf ball size swelling behind the knee, symptoms of a popliteal cyst include pressure in the back of the knee joint that can extend into the calf muscle, difficulty bending the knee, and aching and tenderness after exercise.

Treatment of a Popliteal Cyst

Rest is the first step you should take while waiting to get a diagnosis from a medical professional. Although a lump in the back of the knee is most often a popliteal cyst, it can also be an aneurysm (swelling in an artery) or a tumor, so it is recommended that you consult a doctor of sports injury professional. A specialist or doctor also will need to determine if there is other damage, such as a meniscus tear or injury to the kneecap, or if arthritis is a cause. If there are other injuries involved, they will need to be corrected along with the popliteal cyst. Sometimes a popliteal cyst disappears by itself given rest and time. Wearing a knee support can help reduce the swelling. A popliteal cyst that persists can be removed surgically.

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