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HealthInfo Waitaha Canterbury

Baker's cyst (popliteal cyst)

A Baker’s cyst is a fluid-filled swelling that can develop behind your knee.

It is usually caused by a problem in your knee, such as arthritis or a cartilage tear. With these conditions your knee can make too much fluid (synovial fluid) which then collects behind your knee.

Baker’s cysts are more common in women and usually develop in people over the age of 40.

Rarely, children and younger people with a healthy knee can get a Baker’s cyst.

Symptoms of a Baker's cyst

Symptoms of a Baker's cyst include:

Rarely, a Baker's cyst can burst causing severe pain, swelling and redness in your calf.

Diagnosing a Baker's cyst

If you have a swollen knee, your doctor may be able to diagnose a Baker's cyst from hearing what your symptoms are and examining your knee.

If your doctor wants to rule out another cause for the swelling, you may need an ultrasound scan or MRI of your knee.

If your cyst has ruptured, you may need tests to rule out a deep vein thrombosis (DVT) as the symptoms are the same.

Self-care of a Baker's cyst

Simple pain relief such as paracetamol and non-steroidal anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen can be useful.

Use the treatment described in Soft tissue injuries & treatment.

Treating a Baker's cyst

If you have no symptoms or only mild symptoms, you will not need any further treatment. The cyst will usually go away by itself.

If you have ongoing pain or trouble using your knee due to the swelling, options include:

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Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed August 2024.


Page reference: 875374

Review key: HIBAK-875374