What is Baker’s Cyst (Popliteal Cyst) ?f

  • Baker’s cyst is swelling caused by fluid from the knee joint protruding to the back of the knee.
  • Baker’s cysts are common and can be caused by virtually any cause of joint swelling (arthritis).
  • A Baker’s cyst may not cause symptoms or be associated with knee pain and/or tightness behind the knee, especially when the knee is extended or fully flexed.
  • Baker’s cysts can rupture and become complicated by spread of fluid down the leg between the muscles of the calf (dissection).
  • Baker’s cysts can be treated with medications, joint aspiration and cortisone injection, and surgical operation, usually arthroscopic surgery.

What is a Baker’s cyst?

A Baker’s cyst is swelling caused by fluid from the knee joint protruding to the back of the knee. The back of the knee is also referred to as the popliteal area of the knee. A Baker’s cyst is sometimes referred to as a popliteal cyst or Baker cyst.

When an excess of knee joint fluid (synovitis) is compressed by the body weight between the bones of the knee joint, it can become trapped and separate from the joint to form the fluid-filled sac of a Baker’s cyst. The name of the cyst is in memory of the physician who originally described the condition, the British surgeon William Morrant Baker (1839-1896).

What causes a Baker’s cyst?

Baker’s cysts are not uncommon and can be caused by virtually any cause of joint swelling (arthritis). The excess joint fluid (synovial fluid) bulges to the back of the knee to form the Baker’s cyst. The most common type of arthritis associated with Baker’s cysts is osteoarthritis, also called degenerative arthritis. Baker’s cysts can occur in children with juvenile arthritis of the knee. Baker’s cysts also can result from cartilage tears (such as a torn meniscus), rheumatoid arthritis, and other knee problems.

What are risk factors for a Baker’s cyst?

Risk factors for a Baker’s cyst include a torn meniscus, knee arthritis (including osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis), and knee joint injury.

What are symptoms and signs of a Baker’s cyst?

A Baker’s cyst may cause no symptoms or be associated with knee pain and/or tightness, and stiffness behind the knee, especially when the knee is extended or fully flexed. Baker’s cysts are usually visible as a bulge behind the knee that is particularly noticeable on standing and when compared to the opposite uninvolved knee. They are generally soft and minimally tender. Sometimes there can be a mild decrease in the range of motion of the knee.

Baker’s cysts can become complicated by spread of fluid down the leg between the muscles of the calf (dissection). The cyst can rupture, leaking fluid down the inner leg to sometimes cause the appearance of a painless bruise under the inner ankle. Baker’s cyst dissection and rupture are frequently associated with swelling of the leg and can mimic phlebitis of the leg. A ruptured Baker’s cyst typically causes rapid-onset swelling of the leg with bruising around the ankle. Read More

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