Runner with Knee Pain

What is a Baker Cyst?

A common cause of posterior knee pain.

A Baker’s cyst is a synovial fluid-filled mass found at the back of the knee, in the popliteal fossa. It often occurs secondary to an underlying pathology within the knee joint, such as a meniscus tear, cartilage degeneration or arthritis. An acute Baker’s cyst can also occur with repeated forced knee extensions, such as when performing kettlebell swings. The cyst can vary in size and symptoms.

How is it diagnosed?

  • Vague pain behind the knee
  • Observable swelling
  • Tender to touch
  • End of range knee flexion is restricted and painful, such as when squatting or kneeling
  • Associated fullness, aches or stiffness behind the knee.

A thorough history and examination by your physiotherapist is important to identify a Baker’s Cyst and the presence of associated intra-articular pathology. An MRI is the gold standard form of imaging to assist this process

Treatment

Initial treatment should aim to address the underlying cause (e.g. a meniscus tear). Ice, anti-inflammatories, and activity modification may help to provide short term relief. A progressive rehabilitation program designed by your physiotherapist will aim to restore knee range of
motion, strength and control. Aspiration, along with an intra-articular corticosteroid injection, may be useful in certain cases.

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