Baker’s Cyst

What is a Baker’s cyst?

A Baker’s cyst, also know as a popliteal cyst, is fluid-filled swelling behind the knee which causes a bulge and feeling of tightness. Pain can get worse when you flex or extend your knee, or when you’re simply active. Baker’s cysts are caused by a problem with your knee joint, like arthritis or a cartilage tear. Both of these can cause your knee to overproduce synovial fluid—a lubricating substance meant to help your leg swing smoothly and reduce friction between the moving parts of your knee. 

A baker’s cyst of the knee occurs on the back of the knee rather than the inside, and looks like a firm sac of liquid.

What are the symptoms of a Baker’s Cyst?

Symptoms of a Baker’s cyst include swelling, pain, and stiffness in the knee joint, and inability to flex or extend your knee completely. Your symptoms can get worse after you’ve been active or if you’ve been standing for a long period of time.

How do we treat a Baker’s Cyst?


Although Baker’s cysts can be annoying and uncomfortable, treating the underlying cause usually fixes the problem. To determine the cause of a Baker’s cyst and the best course of treatment, we carefully assess your injury, your history, and your symptoms. Early on, we may recommend following the R.I.C.E. principles: rest, ice, compression and elevation.  A compression sock and crutches can help bring down pain and swelling.

We provide gentle range-of-motion and strengthening exercises for the muscles around your knee to help reduce your symptoms and preserve your knee function. If the cause of your Baker’s cyst is osteoarthritis, we may recommend temporarily reducing your physical activity to lessen irritation of your knee joint. We also provide physical therapy exercises you can do to speed up your recovery. We teach you exercises to mobilize your joints, reduce swelling and discomfort, and increase your strength, flexibility, and coordination. Our goal is to restore maximum function to your knee and leg, so you can get back to what you love to do, faster!