Physical Therapy For Baker’s Cyst

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Can A Bakers Cyst Be Prevented

4 Self Treatments For Bakers Cysts In The Knee

The best way to prevent a Bakers cyst is to prevent knee injuries. A few ways you can prevent an injury to your knee include:

  • Using the balls of your feet to turn instead of your knees.
  • Warming up properly before you exercise and cooling down afterward.
  • Stopping immediately when you get a knee injury. Its important to ice, rest, wear a compression wrap and elevate your injury when it happens. Talk to your healthcare provider about any knee injuries to make sure youre caring for them correctly.

Surgical Treatments For Bakers Cyst

Symptoms of a Bakers cyst are almost always lessened or resolved with nonsurgical treatments. However, there are few instances where surgery might be recommended to repair the knee damage. You might need surgery if:

  • Your knee pain is severe and not lessening with nonsurgical treatment options or
  • You have a limited range of motion

Surgical options include:

  • Draining the fluid from the cyst with a needle
  • Arthroscopic knee surgery to see and correct internal knee damage with a scope
  • Knee osteotomy to cut parts of the bone to correct knee damage and arthritis pain

How Is A Baker Cyst Treated

You likely wont need any treatment if you dont have any symptoms from your Baker cyst. Some Baker cysts go away without any treatment. If your cyst starts causing symptoms, you might need treatment at that time.

If you do have symptoms, you may be treated depending on the cause of your cyst. For example, you may need medicine for rheumatoid arthritis. Or you may need physical therapy for osteoarthritis.

Other treatments for a Baker cyst can include:

  • Over-the-counter pain medicines
  • Arthrocentesis to removes excess fluid from the joint space
  • Steroid injection into the joint to reduce cyst size
  • Surgery to remove the cyst

Most Baker cysts go away without surgery. Healthcare providers only rarely advise surgery. You might need surgery if your Baker cyst is causing you severe symptoms and no other treatments have worked. Your provider will check you carefully for other knee problems to treat before advising surgery. In many cases, a Baker cyst will come back after surgery. This is most often true when its caused by a problem that hasnt gone away.

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Not To Burst The Bubble: Effective Bakers Cyst Exercises

A bakers cyst is a swelling at the back of the knee which is filled with fluids. Its occurrence is often linked to knee joint issues and wear and tear like arthritis. While mainstream medicine usually recommends forcefully removing the cyst, there is a less intrusive option that can help reduce the swelling exercise. Well show you three exercises to deal with your bakers cyst. Watch the video below and follow along using the written instructions at the bottom of the page. Lets get started!

Weve got one stretching exercise and two foam rolling massages for you. If you do these exercises regularly, your bakers cyst will improve in no time at all!

Other Considerations When Dealing With A Bakers Cyst

Bakers Cyst Exercises: 5 Exercises to Help Manage a Cyst

In addition to the exercises listed above, Matt Bayes, MD, recommends light exercise such as walking or yoga and Pilates to help the overall strength, flexibility, and stability of the body lending better support for the knee joint.

Bayes also says footwear choice is important when dealing with a Bakers cyst. Supporting a severely flat foot, or very high arch with an insert in your shoe can help your knee discomfort, he explains. Along those same lines, Bayes says compression from a lightweight knee sleeve worn when active can help cause the cyst to reabsorb more quickly.

Last medically reviewed on June 18, 2018

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  • Bakers cyst. .
  • Bayes M. . Personal interview.
  • Rethorn Z. . Personal interview.

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Can There Be Complications If I Dont Treat A Bakers Cyst

Not all Bakers cysts are treated. You might feel that the pain is mild and leave it alone. The cyst might go away on its own if it isnt treated. However, there are other complications that can happen if a Bakers cyst is left untreated, including:

  • The pain getting worse.
  • The cyst increasing in size.
  • The cyst bursting, causing bruising in the lower leg.

If the cyst doesnt go away, reach out to your healthcare provider. Its important to get the right diagnosis and make sure it is a Bakers cyst. This condition could be mistaken for something more serious like a tumor or artery aneurysm, which is a medical emergency.

What Are Possible Complications Of A Baker Cyst

In rare cases, a Baker cyst may cause complications. The cyst may enlarge, which may cause redness and swelling. The cyst may also rupture, causing warmth, redness, and pain in your calf.

The symptoms may be the same as a blood clot in the veins of the legs. Your healthcare provider may need imaging tests of your leg to make sure you dont have a clot. Rupture can also lead to its own complications, such as:

  • Trapping of a tibial nerve. This causes calf pain and numbness behind the leg. It can be treated with arthrocentesis and steroid injections.
  • Blockage of the popliteal artery. This causes pain and lack of blood flow to the leg. It can also be treated with arthrocentesis and steroid injections.
  • Compartment syndrome. This causes intense pain and problems moving the foot or toes. Compartment syndrome is a medical emergency. It needs immediate surgery. It can lead to permanent muscle damage if not treated right away.

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First Of All What Causes A Bakers Cyst

A Baker’s cyst develops when there is excess fluid in the knee joint and there is number of things can cause this swelling of or in the knee.

The most common cause is knee osteoarthritis, where wear and tear of the knee bones and cartilage leads to increased fluid in the knee joint. In fact, 50% of arthritis sufferers develop a popliteal cyst at some point.

Other conditions, such as knee gout, or any injury to the knee which produces swelling, e.g. a cartilage or knee meniscal tear, can increase the risk of developing bursitis in the knee.

What happens is then this excess synovial fluid seeps backwards out of the joint and into the semimembranosus bursa. As the fluid enters the bursa it starts to swell resulting in knee bursitis.

Do Exercises Help A Bakers Cyst

Bump On Back Of Knee? (Baker’s Cyst, Popliteal Cyst)

Exercises are one of the best treatments for a bakers cyst knee. Muscle tightness is a common contributing cause of popliteal cysts. Tight hamstrings aggravate a popliteal cyst as they place extra pressure on the bursa.

This means, any time you move your knee, more friction occurs at the bursa, which leads to inflammation and more swelling, therefore aggravating the Bakers Cyst knee and causing pain behind the knee.

The best way to tell if muscle tightness is causing or contributing to your bakers cyst knee pain is to see a physical therapist who can fully assess you. However there are some simple tests you can try at home that will give you an indication of any tightness – visit the knee stretches section to find these tests.

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Exercises That Can Help You Manage A Bakers Cyst

Aches and pains are common, especially if you exercise or have a physical job. But when that pain becomes centralized in one area, it might be time to do something about it.

One such mild to moderate pain that can be felt on the back of your knee is called a Bakers cyst, or popliteal cyst. These fluid-filled sacs can make standing or sitting difficult. It can also be painful when you bend your knee.

Doing a few daily exercises can help you manage a Bakers cyst and the symptoms associated with it.

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Key Points About Baker Cysts

  • A Baker cyst is a fluid-filled sac that forms behind the knee. They usually don’t cause major problems.
  • A Baker cyst is usually the result of some other problem with the knee. It may be caused by osteoarthritis or a tear of the knees cartilage.
  • Many people with Baker cysts dont have any symptoms. You might have some pain behind the knee.
  • Your healthcare provider will try to treat any underlying conditions. You may also need fluid removed from the knee joint space or the cyst.
  • Surgery isn’t usually needed for a Baker cyst.
  • In rare cases, a Baker cyst can rupture. This can cause serious complications. See your provider right away if your leg is red and swollen.

How Is A Baker’s Cyst Diagnosed


A Baker’s cyst may be diagnosed using a number of different methods, including:

  • physical examination of your knee
  • taking your medical history to see if you have any conditions that may cause a Bakers cyst
  • x-ray this wont show the cyst, but can show the presence of arthritis in the knee joint, which may be causing the problem
  • shining a light through the cyst this can determine that the mass is filled with fluid
  • ultrasound or magnetic imaging resonance .

How is a Baker’s cyst treated?

Baker’s cysts dont always need treatment as they can get better and disappear on their own.

If treatment is required, options can include:

  • treating the underlying cause such as medication for arthritis or rest and ice for torn knee cartilage
  • temporarily avoiding activities that aggravate your knee joint
  • physiotherapy which may include heat or ice treatment and exercises and stretches to maintain the mobility and strength of your knee
  • using crutches to take the weight off your knee
  • cortisone injections to reduce inflammation
  • draining the fluid by inserting a needle into the cyst
  • surgery may be required to remove the cyst if all other treatments havent worked.

A conservative approach of watching and waiting is recommended with children, as the condition commonly subsides on its own without active treatment.

Most people with a Baker’s cyst will be able to continue going to work or school.

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What Is A Baker Cyst

A Baker cyst is a fluid-filled sac that forms behind the knee. It’s also known as a popliteal cyst or popliteal synovial cyst.

The knee is a complex joint that has many parts. The lower end of the thighbone rotates on the upper end of the shinbone . The knee joint is filled with a special fluid that cushions the joint.

A Baker cyst forms when an injury or disease causes extra synovial fluid to leak into the extra space behind the knee.

Baker cysts are common in both adults and children. But theyre more common as a person gets older.

Exercise : Mini Roller Massage

Take the mini foam roller from our foam rolling set or something similar in shape.

Sit down on a mat and place the roller under your calf. Make sure to press your leg down really hard. Now begin rolling slowly into the direction of your knee. When you reach the hollow of your knee, be very careful! While foam rolling, make sure you do not exceed your pain threshold. Always stay below a 10 and above an 8 on your personal pain scale from 1-10.

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Preventing Baker’s Cyst From Coming Back

Bakers Cysts frequently return, especially in people suffering from knee arthritis due to the continued production of excess fluid in the knee joint.

Knee strengthening exercisesandknee stretchescan often help to prevent a popliteal cyst returning – what happens is that the stronger the muscles get, the less force goes through the bones making it less likely that the knee will swell which therefore prevents another knee cyst from developing.

This is especially the case when the popliteal cyst has developed due to arthritis.

What Is A Bakers Cyst

What is Causing the Pain Behind Your Knee, How to Tell

Most commonly found behind the knee, a Bakers cyst is a fluid-filled lump that results from a damaged joint. You might hear Bakers cysts referred to as popliteal cysts or synovial cysts.

When the knee joint is damaged or inflamed, extra synovial fluid is produced and becomes trapped in the joint, forming a cyst behind the knee.

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Arthritis In The Knee

All forms of arthritis can cause the fluid build-up that can become a Bakers cyst, but most commonly Bakers cysts come from rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis.

Why? These degenerative forms of arthritis cause the body to respond with inflammation. Rheumatoid arthritis more popular in the elderly causes an increased production of synovial fluid from inflammation around the knee joints.

Treat The Underlying Cause

In order to completely settle the Bakers Cyst and prevent a recurrence the underlying cause must be adequately treated/managed. This may involve settling an acute aggravation of the arthritis or cartilage tear. Physiotherapy can assist with this through load management, activity modification, manual therapy, and a progressive exercise program. Medication may be appropriate if particularly aggravated, but this will need to be discussed with your doctor.

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What Are The Symptoms Of A Bakers Cyst

Sometimes youll feel no pain at all, or only a slight pain with a Bakers cyst. You may only have knee pain from the initial damage that caused the Bakers cyst, but not the lump itself. Any strain can cause this lump or your knee to swell in size. When the knee or cyst swells, this can increase your pain and limit how much you can move your knee.

Symptoms of a Bakers cyst may include:

  • A fluid-filled lump behind your knee.
  • Limited range of motion and ability to bend your knee.
  • Swelling of your knee and/or leg.

Sometimes, a Bakers cyst can cause swelling and redness in your lower leg that can be similar to the symptoms of a blood clot. A blood clot is an emergency situation. If you are ever in doubt, reach out to your healthcare provider right away. Your provider can check out your symptoms and determine if its a Bakers cyst or a blood clot.

How To Treat Baker’s Cyst:

  • Anti-Inflammatory Medications
  • Typical medications to alleviate pain are Ibuprofen, Naproxen, Ketoprofen and Calcoxib. Thanks to the anti-inflammatory properties in the medications, the swelling will be reduced to help minimize the amount of pressure felt in the knee joint.

  • IceIce is one of the best things to treat a bakers cyst. Remember that this is simply an inflammation, or swelling, so use ice to reduce the swelling. Be persistent with it, as it can take 2-4 weeks of regular icing to reduce the swelling.
  • Physical Therapy
  • Undergoing physical therapy can help to reduce swelling in the knee. Leg strengthening exercises can work wonders to help get the fluid moving away from your knee and start alleviating the pressure and fluid build-up. Electrotherapy such as ultrasound, LASER and acupuncture can also help reduce the swelling. Therapy also improves mobility to the knee joint which can reduce swelling.

  • Surgery to Remove the Cyst
  • If all else fails, surgery is an option, but a rarely used option. As the bakers cyst is often secondary to another knee injury, sometimes surgery to the causative injury can help. When internal knee problems and cartilage tears are found, surgery can be the best alternative. The surgeon may remove the swollen tissue leading to the formation of the cyst. Arthroscopic surgery is performed.

  • Cortisone Injections
  • An MRI showing a small Bakers cyst

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    Bakers Cyst Knee Treatment

    Reviewed by: KPE Medical Review Board

    A Bakers Cyst knee aka popliteal cyst develops when there is inflammation of the popliteal bursa a small fluid filled sac at the back of the knee that acts as a cushion between the hamstring muscles and the knee bones.

    It causes swelling at the back of the knee and can make knee movements stiff and painful, particularly bending the knee.

    A Bakers Cyst is most commonly caused by either arthritis or by an injury to the knee joint. In both cases, extra fluid in the joint seeps backwards and collects in the bursa causing it to swell.

    There are a number of treatment options with a popliteal cyst such as ice, injections and medication, but one of the most effective, especially for preventing the problem recurring is exercises. Weakness and tightness in the muscles around the knee can place increased friction and pressure on the bursa which causes it to swell.

    Here we will concentrate on exercises, but if you want to know more about other treatment options, visit the Bakers Cyst overview.

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