Baker’s Cyst

A Baker’s cyst, also known as a popliteal cyst, is a fluid-filled swelling that develops at the back of the knee. It is caused by an accumulation of synovial fluid, which is a lubricating fluid that normally surrounds the knee joint. The cyst may be small and painless, or it can become large and cause discomfort, stiffness, and limited range of motion in the knee.

Causes of Baker’s Cyst

As mentioned earlier, a Baker’s cyst is caused by an accumulation of synovial fluid in the knee joint. Here are some of the common causes of this condition:

Knee joint inflammation: Inflammation of the knee joint due to conditions like osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, or other inflammatory conditions can cause excess synovial fluid production.

Knee injuries: Any injury to the knee joint, such as a tear in the meniscus or ligament, can lead to increased production of synovial fluid.

Overuse of the knee joint: Repetitive activities that strain the knee joint, such as running or cycling, can cause inflammation and subsequent accumulation of synovial fluid.

Other underlying knee conditions: Certain knee conditions, such as gout or lupus, can also cause inflammation and accumulation of synovial fluid.

Infections: In some cases, an infection in the knee joint can lead to the production of excess synovial fluid and the development of a Baker’s cyst.

It is important to see a doctor if you develop symptoms of a Baker’s cyst to determine the underlying cause and receive appropriate treatment.

Signs and Symptoms of Baker’s Cyst

The signs and symptoms of a Baker’s cyst can vary depending on the size of the cyst and the underlying cause. Some of the common signs and symptoms include:

  • Swelling: A visible swelling or lump at the back of the knee is a common sign of a Baker’s cyst.
  • Pain: The swelling may cause discomfort, pain, and a feeling of tightness in the knee joint.
  • Stiffness: The knee may feel stiff and difficult to move, especially when the cyst is large.
  • Limited range of motion: The swelling and stiffness can restrict the movement of the knee joint, making it difficult to fully extend or bend the knee.
  • Difficulty walking or standing: The pain and stiffness associated with a Baker’s cyst can make it difficult to walk or stand for long periods of time.
  • In some cases, a Baker’s cyst may rupture, causing sudden pain, swelling, and redness in the calf or lower leg.

Treatment for Baker’s Cyst

Physiotherapy can be an effective treatment option for Baker’s cysts. Here are some common physiotherapy treatments:

Range of motion exercises: Gentle range of motion exercises can help improve flexibility and reduce stiffness in the knee joint.

Strengthening exercises: Strengthening exercises that focus on the muscles around the knee joint can help improve joint stability and reduce pain. These exercises may include leg presses, calf raises, and hamstring curls.

Ultrasound therapy: Ultrasound therapy can help reduce pain and inflammation in the knee joint.

Ice and heat therapy: Alternating ice and heat therapy can help reduce pain and inflammation in the knee joint.

Compression: Applying compression to the knee joint can help reduce swelling and improve blood flow.

Joint mobilization: Joint mobilization techniques may be used to improve joint mobility and reduce stiffness in the knee joint.

Your physiotherapist will develop a personalized treatment plan based on your specific needs and goals. It is important to follow the treatment plan consistently to achieve the best results. It is also important to consult with your doctor to rule out any underlying medical conditions that may require additional treatment.

If you have any questions or would like to speak to a therapist about baker’s cyst please call us at 03 9836 1126.



Wang, W., Hou, Y., Liu, W., & Wu, W. (2020). Efficacy of physiotherapy in the treatment of Baker cyst: A randomized controlled trial. Medicine

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