A Baker’s cyst, also called a popliteal cyst, is an abnormal swelling in the depression in the back of the knee joint. This condition is usually the result of something else going on in the knee joint, hence it is recommended that you have a consultation with an orthopedic physician who specializes in treatment of the knee. Your knee normally produces synovial fluid in the popliteal bursa (pocket) at the back of the knee to reduce the friction between the moving parts. But, if there is an underlying condition, like arthritis or a meniscus (cartilage) tear, too much fluid is produced and it builds up in this popliteal bursa causing a Baker’s cyst. The cyst can feel like a bulge at the back of your knee and can lead to a feeling of tightness and/or pain in your knee joint. The pain can get worse when you fully bend or straighten your knee. Your symptoms may be worse after activity or if you’ve been standing for a long time.
This knee MRI slice shows a Baker’s cyst, which is identified as the white oval shape area on this image.
A Baker’s cyst can often be diagnosed with a physical exam. However, a more thorough approach is recommended because the signs and symptoms of a Baker’s cyst mimic those of more serious conditions, such as a blood clot, aneurysm or tumor. Your doctor may order x-rays, MRI or ultrasound to make an accurate diagnosis and to address the underlying cause. Schedule your appointment with one of our knee specialists, so you can enjoy a pain-free knee again.