What Is Baker's Cyst - Symptoms & Treatment

Medically Reviewed By : Dr K. Hari Chandana

( Fellowship in Trauma, Fellowship in Pain Management )


The name Baker’s cyst was first coined by Dr. Morrent Baker. Anatomically, the name popliteal synovial cyst derives from its location, which is on the popliteal fossa, the back of the knee.

A little sac filled with vital fluid, called the bursa, helps the knee operate quite smoothly without causing much friction. In certain conditions, there is an excess of fluid inside the bursa, which can cause bursitis, an inflammation of the bursa.

There can be numerous etiologies for cyst formation; however, the most common ones are osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears, and meniscus tears, which are C-shaped cartilage that can be torn due to an abrupt injury to the knee. 

Baker's cyst

Baker’s Cyst Causes

The most common cause of baker’s cyst is 

These are the types of conditions that cause your joints to produce excessive fluid, which is the cause that leads to the formation of the popliteal cyst

Types of the cysts

Let’s discuss the classification of the cyst. There are two types of cysts: There are two types of cysts.

Depending on the size of the cyst, the symptoms and treatment can vary to some extent. However, the baseline treatment remains the same.

Baker’s cyst is commonly seen in adults, especially in inflammatory conditions like osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, and is symptomatic compared to the asymptomatic manifestation seen in children. 

Signs and symptoms

Both subjective and objective symptoms and signs might be present, but they can differ from person to person. 

Let’s discuss the popliteal cyst symptoms and indicators.

Diagnosis and Treatment

If your doctor suspects that you have a frozen shoulder, they’ll likely begin by physically examining your shoulder. This examination helps identify how limited your range of motion is and how severe your pain is.

Sometimes, your doctor may recommend imaging tests, such as X-rays or an MRI, to help diagnose the condition.

The treatment for a frozen shoulder often involves physical therapy, which might include exercises to help stretch and strengthen the shoulder joint. Painkiller medications may also be helpful in this condition.


Considering the nature of a symptomatic popliteal cyst, most of the time the patient may not know that they have one. However, in cases of discoloration or excruciating pain, which could be because of the rupture of the cyst, one must visit the physician. 

Even if the patient sees an unusual bulge or swelling on the back of the knee, they must visit the physician and follow that advice.


There are several complications of a popliteal cyst that are usually seen quite rarely. 

However, the most common complication of a baker’s cyst is its rupture

Baker’s cyst rupture

Since it is a cyst and is filled with fluid, there is a possibility that it can rupture. 

If the baker’s cyst ruptures, there’s a tendency for it to cause pain and swelling because there will be a leakage of fluid that may go into your calf muscles, leading to pain and discomfort.

Diagnosis of baker's cyst

Consulting a specialist becomes of high importance in such conditions where there is a chance of serious complications. Your doctor will want you to provide a detailed account of your symptoms to obtain a complete medical history, and he or she will ask you in-depth questions about your symptoms, like the onset, duration, and progress of the disease.

Along with that, the physician may also perform an examination and ask you to do some imaging tests.

The imaging test could be:

Treatment of baker’s cyst

The treatment is further divided into 

Arthroscopy is a component of surgical treatment.

While you are under anesthesia, your doctor will make several tiny incisions to implant an arthroscope, which is a tiny camera inserted into your knee joint. Your doctor will use the images from the camera to direct tiny surgical equipment.

Non-surgical treatment 

This could include

The prognosis regarding Baker’s cyst is fair, and it’s not something serious. Considering appropriate medication and services, a full recovery can be achieved in 3–4 weeks. 

Removal of the baker’s cyst

This can depend on the size of the cyst and the symptoms it causes. Your healthcare provider may drain the fluid from the cyst to prevent its rupture.

In extreme cases, arthroscopic surgery may be performed by your healthcare provider to prevent further complications. 

Self-Care in Baker’s Cyst 

There are certain measures that you need to take from your end when you are diagnosed with baker’s cyst