Knee pain is often accompanied by inflammation, especially if the cause is arthritis or an injury. However, it can also lead to more severe problems like Baker’s cyst, a fluid-filled growth that can develop at the back of your knee.

While the condition can be uncomfortable and painful, several effective remedies are available. This article will discuss the causes, treatments, and prevention methods for Baker’s cyst.

What is a Baker’s Cyst?

The medical term for this condition is a popliteal cyst, but you may hear doctors refer to it by either name. It refers to a growth filled with excess fluids called a bursa that develops at the back of your knee. The cyst can be small, but in some cases, it can become big enough to prevent you from bending your knee.

How Does a Baker’s Cyst Form?

Your knee produces synovial fluid [1], sometimes called joint fluid, which plays a key role in lubricating the joints. Think of it as a cushioning mechanism that helps limit friction during movement. Sometimes the knee produces too much synovial fluid, so a bursa forms at the back of the knee to hold the excess liquid. As the growth fills it expands, creating a lump called a Baker’s cyst.

What Triggers Baker’s Cyst?

In most cases, what triggers Baker’s cyst is an issue that impacts the primary joint in your knee. For example, arthritis is a disease that causes progressive damage to your knee joint.

Injuring your knee, for instance, through direct impact while playing sports, can cause a tear in your cartilage. The injury can trigger excess joint fluid production and result in a cyst as a complication.

What Causes a Baker’s Cyst?

It’s essential to learn why a Baker’s cyst develops, so you can assess what led to your condition and implement steps to prevent it from occurring in the future. Let’s look at the primary causes.

  • Knee Swelling: Several things can contribute to swelling and pain behind the knees, such as arthritis, injury, or general wear and tear.

  • Arthritis: There are over 100 forms of arthritis that affect your joints. Some are caused by wear and tear over the years, while others occur because your immune system attacks healthy tissue. If you have arthritis, it can cause symptoms like swelling and back of knee pain, and the impact on your joints may also result in this type of cyst.

  • Injury: The cause of these cysts is sometimes linked to an injury. When you damage your knee, you may experience inner knee pain followed by inflammation that can lead to a cyst.

  • Gout: This is an inflammatory arthritic condition that occurs when there is a buildup of uric acid in your bloodstream. It causes crystals to form in your joints, and can also lead to a Baker’s cyst.


How is a Baker’s Cyst Diagnosed?

The diagnosis process begins with a physician examining the affected knee, taking your medical history, and getting relevant details about joint-related conditions or recent injuries. This procedure helps the doctor assess your risk of developing a Baker’s cyst.

In addition, the physician may use a device to identify whether there is fluid on the knee. X-ray imaging is often part of the diagnostics process, which can be especially useful to help your doctor rule out other causes of your symptoms.

How Do I Heal a Baker’s Cyst?

If you have a cyst, it’s important to understand the treatment options available. The process usually begins with a visit to your doctor’s office. After diagnosing the cyst, the physician will prescribe a Baker’s cyst treatment plan. These are a few additional tips that can speed up the healing process and prevent complications.

  • Fluid Drainage: As we explained, a Baker’s cyst consists of a fluid-filled lump [2] at the back of your knee. Draining the fluids from the cyst can bring you significant relief, but note that you shouldn’t attempt to do this at home. Your doctor may suggest fluid drainage after assessing your condition.

  • Physical Therapy: In some cases, symptoms like muscle weakness and poor mobility may occur after the treatment of a Baker’s cyst. Physical therapy can help you build back muscle strength in your knees and restore mobility.

  • Medication: If you experience pain and swelling with your cyst, you can take medication to reduce the discomfort. For severe symptoms, you may require prescription drugs, but for mild and moderate cases, over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication is often effective.

  • Keep it Cold: You can use a cold compress to help relieve the pain and inflammation that often accompany Baker’s cyst.

  • Rest Your Leg: One of the most important things you can do to heal the cyst is to rest the leg with the infected knee, as overdoing it will only worsen the condition.

There are also topical ointments available that can help relieve pain and inflammation like the Flexdermal Topical Pain Relief Cream, specifically created to help reduce cyst symptoms including pain, inflammation, and tenderness in the knee joint.

Complications Associated With Popliteal Cysts

If you have Baker’s cyst symptoms and you don’t address the problem, there are a few complications that could develop. Understanding these complications can help you recognize why it’s so important to get treatment and encourage you to take action.

  • Prolonged Swelling: Inflammation is one of the most common symptoms of a popliteal cyst, also known as a Baker’s cyst. If you don’t get the correct treatment, however, the inflammation may persist over time.

  • Severe Pain: Your pain will not decrease unless you seek treatment for the cyst. You can take over-the-counter painkillers, however, they will only temporarily mask your symptoms.

  • Complications from Related Injuries: When a Baker’s cyst is caused by an injury, there may be other medical complications depending on the damage.

There have also been cases where cysts have become infected [3], and this risk further stresses the importance of seeking treatment.

Baker’s Cyst Prevention Tips

Following prevention strategies is the key to reducing your risk of developing a cyst so you don’t have to worry about symptoms and complications. In addition, taking a quality natural product like the Flexoplex joint health supplement can strengthen your joints and make you less likely to experience related issues.

If you have joint problems, make sure you don’t push yourself too hard when exercising. Those with arthritis should get regular medical checkups to detect any complications early on and address them without delay.



Is walking good for a Baker's cyst?

Your physician will likely advise you to rest during the early stages of healing from a Baker’s cyst, however, as your recovery progresses, you can walk to strengthen your muscles and improve mobility.

What is the best exercise for a Baker’s cyst?

When you are recovering from a Baker’s cyst you should approach workouts gradually and begin with low-intensity exercise. Hamstring stretches and heel slides are both great for a Baker’s cyst, but you should get medical approval from a doctor before you start to exercise.

Which activities should you avoid if you have a Baker’s cyst?

If your knee feels painful and tender, it’s best to avoid exercise and focus on rest. Early in your recovery, you should also stay away from activities that require you to bend your knees.


A Baker’s cyst can cause severe pain, tenderness, and inflammation, resulting in poor mobility and difficulty getting through your daily routine. It’s important to understand the condition so you can implement precautionary measures. Follow the tips we shared, but also see a doctor for medical diagnosis and treatment.



Dr. Ahmed Zayad

Dr. Ahmed Zayad

Dr. Zayed, has years of experience in the field and has been contributing to public health awareness. Dr. Ahmed Zayed holds a baccalaureate of Medicine and Surgery. Egypt. Dr. Zayed believes in providing knowledgeable information to readers. His articles were featured on many websites like HuffingtonPost, Chicagotribune . Other than his passion for writing, Dr. Zayed spends his time outside the hospital, either reading or at the gym.

Written by Dr. Ahmed Zayad

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