THE CLINIC: Treating a Baker's Cyst
Thu, 6 Sept. 2012 - 2:14 a.m. MT
Credit: ARA Staff - American Running Association
What is the best treatment for a Baker’s cyst?
San Antonio, TX
A Baker’s cyst—a sac of fluid under the skin that forms at the back of the knee—is almost always the result of some intra-articular problem. When the joint is inflamed, it produces excess fluid. The fluid finds an exit out the back of the knee and the cyst can grow to considerable size. The egress track works like a flutter valve out of the joint so the fluid cannot re-enter it. Most people have little pain other than an aching and a sense of tightness, but if the problem continues, the cyst can become quite large, firm, and painful.
Treatment of a Baker’s cyst, then, is directed at the underlying pathology in the knee that is causing the inflammation. Once the joint is treated, the cyst will likely resolve by itself over time. Baker’s cysts are often associated with rheumatoid arthritis; assuming you don’t have this or another systemic inflammatory disease, a trip to the orthopedist will reveal the best course of action, which may not involve any direct treatment of the cyst, or could involve injection, or less commonly, minor surgery.
Larry D. Hull, MD
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(RUNNING & FITNEWS® January/February 2006 • Volume 24, Number 1)