All You Need To Know About Baker’s Cyst (Symptoms & Treatments)

Janice

Baker’s Cysts are a problem for people who suffer from Arthritis or have recently had a knee injury. Simply put, a Bakers Cyst is a fluid filled cyst that forms behind the knee[1]. The cyst forms usually as a result of joint issues, like arthritis, or damage to the knee.

If you want to learn more about Baker’s Cysts, we have a short guide to everything you need to know. We will go over everything from the symptoms and causes of Baker’s Cysts to the Treatments and even possible prevention. If you suffer from Arthritis or have recently suffered a knee injury then this article is for you.

But first let’s go over the basics before we dive into the details of Baker’s Cysts.

How Synovial Joints Work?

A synovial joint works mostly because of the synovial fluid[2]. The synovial fluid allows the joint to move without causing friction. The fluid in the joints keeps them lubricated and cushions them from the impact of everyday life.

Synovial fluid is pretty amazing stuff. It even delivers nutrients to the cartilage and removes waste. The problem is when the cartilage becomes diseased or damaged as with things like Osteoarthritis, the joint produces more Synovial Fluid to compensate.

This is where the problems begin. Although the joint needs the Synovial Fluid to function correctly, too much synovial fluid can cause problems like inflammation and Baker’s Cysts.

So what do you need to know about Arthritis and the problems it can cause for joints?

Understanding Arthritis

Understanding Arthritis

Arthritis isn’t actually one particular disease. It’s really an umbrella term for joint disease and joint pain. There are multiple different forms of Arthritis which are all different types of joint disease.

You’d actually be quite surprised at the number of people in America today who suffer from some form of arthritis. Over 50 million adults in America[3] suffer from Arthritis. And, did you know, that over 300,000 children suffer from some form of arthritis too?

Arthritis is the number 1 cause of disability in America today. That’s a pretty widespread disease. And the problem with Arthritis is that causes other types of diseases and problems, one of them being Baker’s Cysts.

So now you understand the basics of Synovial Joints and how common Arthritis is, let’s discuss Baker’s Cysts in a little more detail.

What are the Symptoms of Baker’s Cysts?

Symptoms of Bakers

The symptoms of Baker’s Cysts can be a little hard to pinpoint. This is for a number of reasons. The biggest of which is the fact that sometimes there are no symptoms at all of a Baker’s Cyst.

Another reason why the symptoms of Baker’s Cysts are a little uncertain is because of the fact that they can sometimes seem very similar to the symptoms of a blood clot. However, these are the symptoms you may experience are as follows:

  • Swelling behind your knee
  • Stiff knee joints
  • Loss of a range of motion in your knee joint

If you find yourself experiencing any of these symptoms I’d recommend that you see a doctor as soon as possible. Although Baker’s Cysts are not serious, the symptoms can be uncomfortable or a sign of further damage and it’s recommended that you see your doctor immediately if you experience any of these symptoms.

What are the Causes of Baker’s Cysts?

The main cause of Baker’s Cysts is when the synovial fluid builds up in the back of the knee causing a cyst. The buildup of fluid can be caused by a number of reasons. The main reason for the fluid buildup is usually from joint inflammation.

As you know, joint inflammation is most likely caused by a form of Arthritis. If you have Arthritis it’s likely that you’ll get a Baker’s Cyst at some point.

Baker’s Cysts can also be caused by a knee injury. So if you’ve suffered from a knee injury lately it’s likely that’s why you have a Baker’s Cyst.

Possible Risks of Bakers Cysts

Although Baker’s Cysts themselves aren’t too serious, they could cause you some discomfort and pain. It all depends on the severity of your cyst.

It’s quite likely that you won’t feel any pain or discomfort at all from a Baker’s Cyst.

However, there are times when a Baker’s Cyst can become problematic. There’s a possibility that your cyst may burst and leak synovial fluid down your calf. Your Baker’s Cyst may have burst if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • A sharp pain in your knee
  • Your calf swells up
  • Your calf becomes red
  • You feel the sensation of water running down your calf

Whilst the synovial fluid will just be absorbed back into the body at some point, it’s important to speak to your doctor if you have these symptoms.

Although the Baker’s Cyst bursting isn’t a risk the symptoms like redness and swelling in your legs can be a sign of a blood clot – it’s better to be safe than sorry.

How is a Baker’s Cyst Diagnosed?

If you think you have a Baker’s Cyst then your doctor will most likely diagnose it by carrying out a physical exam. However, your doctor might carry out further tests on you to rule out the possibility of a blood clot, tumor or an aneurysm. Those tests might include:

  • An X-Ray
  • An MRI Scan
  • An Ultrasound Scan

These tests aren’t so much to diagnose the Baker’s Cyst but to rule out any further complications that are linked to the symptoms you’re experiencing.

What are the Treatments of Baker’s Cysts?

Treatments of Bakers Cysts

Normally the Baker’s Cyst will actually just go away on its own and you won’t require any treatment for it. However, if your Baker’s Cyst is particularly big, painful or uncomfortable, then your doctor might prescribe one of the following treatments:

  • Medication such as a corticosteroid injection into the cyst itself. This may relieve the inflammation and pain but it won’t make your Baker’s Cyst go away.
  • Fluid Drainage may be an option. Your doctor will insert a needle into the cyst and drain the fluid from it using ultrasound to find where your Baker’s Cyst is. Removing the fluid will make it a lot less painful and uncomfortable.
  • Physical therapy is a likely choice. This could be anything from using ice to reduce the swelling, compression therapy or even using a range of motion exercises to strengthen the knee.
  • You may be provided with crutches to help you to walk without being in too much pain. This will be useful for you if your Baker’s Cyst is stopping you from moving your knee joint.

How to Prevent Baker’s Cysts?

How to Prevent Bakers Cysts

Baker’s Cysts are generally harmless, but they can be extremely painful and uncomfortable. You may even find that your Baker’s Cyst is big enough and uncomfortable enough that you’re unable to move your knee at all. So we really want to do what we can to be able to prevent Baker’s Cysts from happening at all.

The best way to prevent Baker’s Cysts is to exercise. It may be a bit difficult to exercise, especially if you’ve injured your knee and it’s painful or if you have arthritis. Fortunately, there are exercises and stretches that will help you to prevent Baker’s Cysts.

By doing a range of motion exercises and stretches, you’ll be able to strengthen the knee and the muscles around it. If your knee is stronger and more flexible you’re less likely to cause damage to it in the future and so preventing a Baker’s Cyst from forming.

If your Baker’s Cyst becomes a chronic thing then the only option may be knee surgery. The knee surgery will repair the damage to the joint and prevent Baker’s Cysts in the future.

Read Next: Knee Arthritis: What You Needed for Fighting Against Knee Arthritis

Conclusion

Although Baker’s Cysts are often symptom free and you might not even notice them, they can be uncomfortable, painful or even debilitating. By keeping your knee and the muscles around it strong and flexible you’re less likely to cause the damage that can cause a Baker’s Cyst. However, it may be that you need to have knee surgery if you have a chronic case.

There’s nothing particularly harmful with a Baker’s Cyst. They usually go on their own. However, some of the symptoms could be a sign of something more severe. If you do experience any of the symptoms of a Baker’s Cyst that are listed above, particularly redness and swelling in your legs, then you should see your doctor immediately.

The key things to take away about Baker’s Cysts is to keep your knee strong and flexible with the range of motion exercises and stretches and inform your doctor immediately if you have any of the symptoms.

Do you suffer from Baker’s Cysts? What home remedies have you found that help with a Baker’s Cyst? We’d love to hear from you! Let us and our readers know anything you have tried that has helped with a Baker’s Cyst or prevented them entirely.

Image Credits
Feature Image: shutterstock.com
In-post Image: shutterstock.com
Author

Contributor : Janice (Joint Health Magazine)

Janice Carson is a freelance journalist who specializes in Joint health issues and provides treatments and solutions to the sufferers. She is having medical writing experience of many years. She is contributing her work to jointhealthmagazine.com.