A Baker’s cysts is a condition characterized by local swelling situated behind the knee and typically occurs as a result of, and in association with, knee joint injuries (such as a meniscal tear or knee osteoarthritis).
Behind the knee lie several small fluid filled sacs known as bursa. Bursa are designed to reduce friction between adjacent bony or soft tissue layers and often communicate with the knee joint.
Patients with a Baker’s cyst typically experience a firm, lumpy swelling located at the back of the knee. In patients with a minor Baker’s cyst little or no symptoms may be present. As the condition worsens patients may experience pain or an ache located at the back of the knee and often a feeling of tightness, particularly when attempting to bend or straighten the knee fully. Sometimes this tightness may extend into the calf. Tenderness may also be experienced when firmly touching the Baker’s cyst at the back of the knee.
A thorough examination from a physiotherapist is usually sufficient to diagnose a Baker’s cyst and the underlying cause of the condition. An ultrasound scan or MRI are usually the most appropriate investigations to identify the presence of a Baker’s Cyst.
Treatment for Baker’s Cyst
Physiotherapy treatment for patients with this condition is vital to hasten the healing process, ensure an optimal outcome and decrease the likelihood of injury recurrence. Treatment may comprise:
- Exercise programs to stretch, self treat and improve proprioception, balance, strength and core stability
- Biomechanical assessment
- Orthotic/insole advise
- Deep tissue massage/myofascial release
- Joint mobilisation
- Dry needling /acupuncture
- Spinal and pelvic re-alignment
- Education / training advice
- Activity modification advice
- Ice or heat treatment
- Clinical Pilates
- Injection advice