Baker’s cyst occurs when fluid gets accumulated behind the knee. It has got its name from William Morrant Baker, a British surgeon, who for the first time had described this grave situation, which can often lead to intense pain as well as discomfort. Baker’s cyst is also known as popliteal cyst. Researches show that one out of every three people having a problem of the knee develops baker’s cyst. This malady can occur at any age but in most cases it is seen that children aged between four and seven and adults aged between 35 and 70 are afflicted by this disease.
Similar to other joints, the knee also requires lubrication for proper functioning. The jelly like lubricant is known as synovial fluid. The knees on getting damaged produces excess of synovial fluid and this fluid when under pressure stretches the joint capsule i.e. the joint’s lining especially at behind the knee.
This results in the creation of a bulge which is called the Baker’s cyst. In most adults, Baker’s cyst happens because of the joint capsule’s herniation. Arthritis, especially osteoarthritis is responsible for damaging the knee that accelerates the happening of Baker’s cyst. However, other kinds of injury of the knee like tearing of the cartilage are also responsible for the formation of this cyst. Often one of these factors or the combination of various factors causes this disease.
The Baker’s cyst if small does not show any kind of symptoms.In such cases the cyst remains unnoticed. The cyst is noticeable only when a bulge is noticed behind the knee. In most cases the bulge doesn’t seem to be sore when touched. This is the reason why in most cases the baker’s cyst remains undiagnosed.
The bulge looks like a balloon filled with water. The symptom of Baker’s cyst includes pain in the knee especially while straightening or bending the joint. A person suffering from Baker’s cyst feels tightness at the back of the knee. One complication that is often faced by people suffering from this cyst is the cyst getting ruptured. This leads to a leaking of the fluid inside the leg and the evident result of the rupture is bruising, pain, redness and swelling of the calf.
Treatment of Baker’s cyst depends on the nature of the cyst and the symptoms. In most cases however no treatment is needed and the cyst cures itself on its own. However it is a must to find out the set of conditions which led to the occurrence of the disease in first place as it will help the disease to recur again. If the cyst causes severe pain the doctor may use physical therapy, medication or fluid drainage.
While using physical therapy, the doctor may prescribe the use of a compression wrap, icing and crutches. This helps in the reduction of the swelling and the pain. The doctor may also prescribe some exercises to strengthen the muscles around the knee. These exercises help in reducing the symptoms and preserving the normal function of the knee.
In case of fluid drainage the doctor may use a needle to drain out the fluid from the knee joint. This process is known as needle aspiration. While treating Baker’s cyst with the help of medicine, there are several medicines which helps in reducing the amount of the fluid that is responsible for the formation of the cyst. However, the doctors may recommend a surgery if he determines that the excess production of synovial fluid is due to the tearing of the cartilage.
The surgery is done in order to repair the torn cartilage. Often surgery is also done in order to remove the cyst. However, in order to avoid the reoccurrence of the cyst a person should treat the underlying problems like arthritis that causes the cysts. To recover completely from the Bakers Cyst syndrome one might follow the PRICE principle which stands for terms such as protection, rest, ice, compression and elevation.
As a part of this principle it is a must for people to protect his/her leg by means of using a crutch. This allows one to reduce the weight off ones knee and hence one can walk painlessly. Taking rest as much as possible is also required and one can also apply ice compress in the inflamed area. The leg should be raised and placed in an inflamed position during the night.
A person in order to avoid the reoccurrence of the Baker’s cyst should treat the problems like arthritis that causes this cyst. Regular exercise and a physically active lifestyle with lots of exercises will help a person to ward this disease. Apart from that a healthy and calcium rich diet will enable a person to save himself or herself from being afflicted by this disease.