Baker’s cyst

Cyst of the knee joint

HCA UK's experts can help to diagnose and treat a range of cysts, including Baker’s cyst

What is a Baker's cyst?

When tissue behind the knee becomes inflamed as a result of a sports-related injury, a fluid-filled swelling called a Baker’s cyst (or popliteal cyst) can form.

A Baker’s cyst can also form as a result conditions such as osteoarthritis (painful joints such as the knees, hips, hands and big toe) or gout (a build up of uric acid in the blood).

Need to know

  • What are the symptoms of a Baker’s cyst? icon plus

    Baker’s cyst is usually painless. However, sometimes it can become inflamed, which leads to noticeable swelling and should be assessed by your GP or consultant.

    The most common symptoms of Baker’s cysts are:

    • pain in the knee and calf
    • fluid build-up around the knee
    • locking or clicking in the knee joint that only occurs occasionally

    In some cases, a Baker's cyst may not cause any symptoms other than swelling, and will go away on its own without treatment. However, in rare cases it can burst (rupture), causing fluid to leak into your calf. This can result in sharp pain, redness and swelling of the area.

  • How is a Baker's cyst diagnosed? icon plus

    Your GP or consultant will discuss your symptoms with you and can usually diagnose a Baker’s cyst by examining the back of your knee.

    In order to rule out further complications, tests they recommend may include:

    • ultrasound or MRI (magnetic resonance imaging scan) of the knee and your cyst
    • D-dimer test (a special blood test to rule out DVT or Deep Vein Thrombosis, where loose pieces of blood clot enter your blood stream)
  • Potential treatment options icon plus

    Treatment options for Baker’s cyst depends on the extent of the condition and your overall health and fitness.

    These may include:

    • painkillers such as ibuprofen or paracetamol to relieve pain and reduce swelling
    • using an ice pack and bandages to reduce swelling by holding them against the affected area for 10-20 minutes at a time
    • draining the cyst
    • resting and elevating the affected calf, if the cyst has ruptured
    • resting your knee joint
    • surgery (known as an arthroscopy) to repair any significant damage around the knee joint, where an instrument known as an arthroscope is used.

Our orthopaedic consultants

We're proud to work with leading orthopaedic experts specialising in conditions of the knee, hip, foot and ankle, and whose skills are matched by their integrity and compassion.

Our locations

From complex orthopaedic surgery to diagnostic scans and procedures, we provide exceptional orthopaedic care across our network of hospitals, outpatient centres and specialist clinics.

Request a knee appointment

We're happy to help you make an appointment with one of our experienced knee consultants. We can also make imaging and outpatient physiotherapy appointments for you.

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020 7079 4344
This content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.
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