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What is a Baker’s Cyst? – Treatment & Causes

baker's cyst treatment & advice

A large baker’s cyst

What is a Baker’s Cyst?

A Baker’s cyst is also known as a popliteal cyst and is a collection of fluid at the back of the knee. A lump develops behind the knee. They are very common. Keep reading to find out about Baker’s Cyst treatment, as well as common causes. We offer specialist orthopaedic treatment in Doncaster & Sheffield to get you back to feeling like yourself.

What Causes a Baker’s Cyst & when should I get treatment?

There is a gap in the capsule (joint lining) that allows the synovial fluid to escape from the joint. The small gap acts as a one-way valve so the cyst can increase in size. 

I’m worried about the cyst – is it nothing to worry about?

It’s normal to be concerned about any lump in your body so it’s worth getting it checked out to make sure that’s what it is. An Ultrasound or MRI scan can confirm the diagnosis.

A Baker’s cyst is nothing to worry about.

MRI of a baker's cyst

MRI showing a baker’s cyst

What happens to the cyst over time?

Most patients live happily with their cyst and have no treatment for it. Occasionally the cyst may burst, and this causes intense pain and swelling on the calf. Sometimes patients present with a ruptured Baker’s cyst for the first time. The cyst can develop again over time as the valve at the back of the knee is still present.

What symptoms does a Baker’s cyst cause?

Swelling and pain at the back of the knee. Large cysts can make it difficult to fully bend your knee and produce pressure effects on the local structures. Pain radiating into the calf and a dragging sensation can be due to the cyst.

What is the treatment for a baker’s cyst?

Most cysts can be left alone especially if they don’t cause problems. 

Treatment for the cyst depends on whether there is damage inside the knee joint that needs addressing. If there is a cartilage problem or osteoarthritis this may take priority over the cyst.

Addressing the knee problem may reduce the cyst but it may be advisable to remove the cyst surgically.  

An aspiration (removal of fluid with a needle) tends to give only temporary relief.

What happens during surgery for a Baker’s Cyst?

Most surgeons will make a big incision at the back of the knee to try to remove the cyst that way. It is very difficult to get deep enough to remove the valve so the recurrence rate with surgery is high.

Mr Haslam has developed a keyhole method for removal of the Baker’s cyst from the inside, three small incisions are made, and the valve is removed from the back of the knee. The cyst then cannot form.

In over 40 cases Mr Haslam has shown this is a reliable and safe technique.

Cyst consultation

I have seen an Orthopaedic Surgeon for Baker’s Cyst treatment & they advised me to leave it alone?

Most surgeons don’t like operating on cysts as the success rate from open surgery is low and operating at the back of the knee has a small risk of damage to nerves and blood vessels.

The surgeon may not know about a keyhole way of performing the surgery so if you are not happy then ask to see a specialist with an interest in keyhole surgery for Baker’s Cysts. 

Mr Haslam has 15 years of experience in the surgical treatment of Baker’s Cysts.

Get in touch with us to get professional treatment today:


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