Is Baker’s Cyst Causing Your Knee Pain?

Is Baker’s Cyst Causing Your Knee Pain?

Knee pain should always be taken seriously, which is why proper education is extremely important. Today, we are going to cover a fairly common cause of knee pain, something called Baker’s Cysts.  Specifically, we are going to cover the symptoms, how it is diagnosed and how to treat it.  If you are currently suffering from knee pain, we strongly recommend that you keep reading.

What is a Baker’s Cyst?

A Baker’s Cyst is a growth on the back of your knee. It is filled with fluid, but often it appears to be tense or taut. They can be small and barely perceptible, or they can be large and prominent on the back of your knee. Sometimes it can cause stiffness and difficulty extending your knee all the way, and other times there are no noticeable effects.
There is no set cause for Baker’s Cyst, but often it comes from a sport’s injury. It occurs when the knee swells and excess fluid leaks to the back of the knee causing the cyst to form. Those with arthritis  or osteoporosis will find that these may be common.

Symptoms of a Baker’s Cyst

There are several symptoms of a Baker’s Cyst including the following common symptoms that most people will find present with a cyst:

  • Swelling the knee (at the time of the cyst’s appearance or just so)
  • Stiffness in the joint when extending the leg all the way
  • Bruising on the knee and calf
  • Knee pain

These common symptoms can vary in severity as well as the amount of time that they are present before/at/after the time of the cyst. While a Baker’s Cyst is not considered severe or dangerous, proper diagnosis and treatment is important to make sure that you can deal with the cyst in a timely manner as well as make sure that you can keep an eye out for any kind of complication.
With a cyst, complications are rare, but can occur. Common ones include severe pain from the cyst. This is caused by the swelling of the knee aggravating the cyst, and vice versa. It can often slow down the healing process, as well as increase the changes of a recurrence.


How to Diagnose Baker’s Cyst

Diagnosis of a Baker’s Cyst comes from doing a self-assessment or, ideally, going and seeing a medical professional. The process tends to follow something like this:

  • Physical assessment of the cyst:The best method of diagnosis is for a doctor to take a look at the cyst hands-on. If you have had one before, then you can also check out the cyst yourself before going to see a medical professional. The general idea is that you self-assess yourself by probing and gently touching the back of your knee to check its form.


  • Range of movement test:Another way to help diagnose a cyst is to conduct a range of movement test. This involves a doctor carefully moving and twist your leg and knee to see how it responds with the cyst in place. While this can be done at home, too, it’s recommended that you allow a doctor to do this test to make sure you don’t further aggravate the injury.

  • MRI or ultrasound:If needed, an ultrasound or MRI can be done to make sure that the cyst is there as a standalone thing and not related to something such as a tumor or other growth. This is common if you get a recurring growth without a common cause (such as a sport’s injury).

For those that get Baker’s Cysts a lot, the first two steps of this an often be done at home. Like anything, the more that you deal with an injury, the more that you are going to recognize when it’s just “run of the mill” and when it could potentially be more serious and require a professional opinion.

How to Treat Baker’s Cyst

Common treatment for Baker’s Cyst can be done from the comfort of your home without too much change in your day to day life and activities.

  • Cold therapy – Putting ice on your knee and cyst can help with the inflammation which will, in turn, help with the recovery from the cyst’s appearance. Proper treatment with cold therapy is one of the best ways to treat it.


SimplyJnJ Knee Cold Therapy Wrap - Cold and Hot Therapy Shop - TBKB


  • Rest: When recovering from a cyst, resting the knee and allowing it time to heal is critical for your knee’s full recovery. If possible, keep the cyst above heart level and allow it plenty of time to recover without you trying to “work through the pain”.

  • Fluid drainage – If the cyst is particularly large, or it’s causing knee pain in a moderate or severe way, a doctor may want to drain the fluid from it. This will relieve the pressure and will help with pain management and recovery down the road. The doctor will determine whether this is needed or not.

  • Physical therapy – If it is severe enough, physical therapy may be helpful in promoting safe movement of the knee. It also helps to strengthen it, to make sure that you are not going to injure the area again. Or, help, at least.

Knee pain and Baker’s Cysts are never fun to live with, but proper treatment and understanding of why they are there can help with the recovery process both in the short  and long term. Have you ever deal with Baker’s Cyst before? Were you successful in treating it? If so, how? We’d love to hear from you, so please leave a comment below before you go. Until next time!

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8 thoughts on “Is Baker’s Cyst Causing Your Knee Pain?

  1. My wife has had bakers cyst several times and always got relief of pain. Six days ago she had them drained and now can’t walk 20 feet because the pain is so intense. She said along with the fluid there was some blood. Can too much fluid be drained

    1. Hi John – I’m sorry to hear that. I’ve heard that Baker’s Cyst can come back sometimes after being drained, but normally the pain is not worse. I’m not sure if it’s possible to drain too much. I recommend she go back to her doctor as soon as possible to have him look at it again. I hope she gets some relief soon.

  2. My mom had severe pain on her knee went to dr and they said arthritis and she also has a Baker’s Cyst behind her knee. they said to give her norco and pain was still there so I finally took her to ER and they took more x-rays and another ultra sound she was there from 5:30pm until they decided to keep her cause I wasn’t taking her home like that she got a room at 3:00am. Then after trying to manage her pain which never happened after 3 days took another ultra sound and the cyst was leaking it had burst so they decided to drain it which at that time made her feel better and sent her home the next day which was friday but once the medication wore off she has been in pain again so now trying to get ahold of her dr . I would appreciate any feed back anyone may have. Before I go I would like to know what happened to the lady who could only walk 20 ft because of pain ..did they take to much fluid or what??

    1. Hi Arlene – I’m sorry to hear that your mom is going through so much pain. I’m not sure if it’s possible to remove too much fluid. I’ve had friends and family go through a fluid aspiration before, but they didn’t seem to have any side effects. In fact, they said they got some relief almost immediately. However, they did say that when they consulted with their doctors, they were told ahead of time that removing the fluid may not always help, because something else is actually causing the pain (infection, cartilage damage, etc.) and doctors can only see that once the fluid is properly removed and the swelling has gone down. Hopefully you’ve had a chance to get another x-ray or ultra sound afterwards and that you have more answers. I’m sorry I couldn’t help more. Take care and I hope your mom feels better soon.

  3. I had a bakers cyst burst on me. I received a cortisone shot but now the front of my knee hurts. My knee cap seems to catch or pull when walking. Any thoughts?

    1. Hi Jan – I’m sorry to hear that. It’s common to get a “cortisone flare-up” after a shot, which can cause some knee pain but normally it goes away after a few days. But I’m not sure why it’s causing you pain in the front of the knee all of a sudden. Sounds like a patellar tracking issue (i.e.: runner’s knee), but it’s hard to say. I would go back to your doctor to see if he/she can figure it out. Hopefully it’s only temporary.

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