Baker’s cysts usually develop in the popliteal area of the knee. The popliteal is found behind the knee, surrounded by the hamstring muscles above and calf muscles below. It is an important area because it contains the major artery, vein and nerves on the leg. Baker’s cyst is a simple cyst that develops in this area. The swelling or fullness of the area can be felt especially when bending the knee or squatting.
Causes of baker’s cysts
A baker’s cysts form when excess fluid in the joint is pushed into small sacs of tissue found behind the knee. When this sac is already filled with fluid, it bulges out and becomes a cyst. The surplus fluid is usually triggered by conditions such as osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis that cause irritation on the knee. Baker’s cyst can also be caused by injuries.
- Swelling behind the knee that becomes worse especially when standing
- Tightness or stiffness behind the knee
- Slight pain behind the knee and the upper calf when bending the knee or straightening it.
- Sometimes, the pocket of fluid found behind the knee can open and drain into the tissues of the lower leg that result to redness and swelling of the affected area.
- Take plenty of rest especially the affected leg until there is no more pain at least 1-2 days.
- Apply an ice pack on the affected area to lessen swelling, inflammation and pain for at least 15-20 minutes at a time. Allow the area to warm up before reapplying the pack again for another 15-20 minutes. Avoid applying the ice pack directly on the skin to prevent further injury.
- Use a compress to lessen the swelling of the affected area and stabilize the knee. Wrap an elastic bandage around the affected area. Avoid wrapping it too tight to prevent any disruption in the blood circulation in the area.
- Elevate the leg above the level of the heart to lessen swelling and increase flow of blood in the area. When lying down, place the leg on stacks of pillows to raise the leg above the level of the heart. If there is difficulty raising the leg, keep it parallel to the ground.
- Take the prescribed over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen, aspirin and naproxen to lessen the swelling and pain.
- Seek the help of the physical therapist for some rehabilitation exercises for the flexibility and strengthening of the muscles and joints. These exercises prevent future weakness and stiffening of the muscle and joints.
- Maintain a healthy weight and avoid being overweight to prevent extra strain on the knee.