How can I get rid of a Baker's cyst?

John E. Zvijac, MD
Orthopedic Surgery
It is important to know whether any pain or swelling is caused by a Baker’s cyst or a blood clot. A blood clot may be dangerous and requires immediate medical attention. Treatment is not always required for a Baker’s cyst, as it may disappear on its own. Sometimes, however, a cyst can be drained (aspirated) or, in rare cases, removed with surgery if it becomes very large or causes symptoms.
Anthony L. Komaroff, MD
Internal Medicine

A Baker's Cyst is a collection of fluid behind the knee. It was named after a British surgeon, William Baker, who described these cysts in the late 1800s. It's sometimes called a popliteal cyst.

The best way to treat a Baker's Cyst depends on the reason it developed in the first place. Options for treatment include:

  • Rest: If the fluid developed due to trauma, injured cartilage or a torn ligament, the fluid may go away over time just by resting the joint.
  • Medical treatment: If the fluid accumulated due to osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis (or a related condition) or an infection, treating the arthritis may lead to the cyst going away over time.
  • Removing the fluid from the knee and injecting a steroid: These treatments may lower the pressure in the joint, reduce the formation of additional fluid and speed recovery. However, steroid injections are avoided if infection is present. The steroids may delay recovery from the infection.
  • Surgery: Occasionally, surgery may be recommended for an infection that does not promptly improve, or for torn cartilage or ligaments. Surgery for a Baker's Cyst is usually recommended only as a last resort, after other, more conservative options have failed.

    If you've been diagnosed with a Baker's Cyst, talk to your doctor about the most likely cause and the appropriate treatment options.

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    Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.