How is a Baker’s cyst treated?

Treatment of a Baker’s cyst usually starts with nonsurgical options. Surgery may be suggested if it does not improve.

Nonsurgical treatment

Here are some ways to treat a Baker’s cyst without surgery:

  • Rest and elevation of the leg
  • Ice and anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen
  • Avoiding activities that strain the knee
  • Treating the initial damage to the knee
  • Going to physical therapy
  • Draining the cyst with a needle
  • Getting a steroid injection

Surgical treatment

When you have a serious pain in your knee, or you are not able to move your knee very much, your doctor may suggest surgery. The surgeon may only need to make a small cut on the knee. Surgery will only relieve the problem if the initial cause of the Baker's cyst is treated as well.

What will my recovery be like after surgery?

Your ability to recover and how long it takes you to recover can be different for each patient. Here are some things to expect:

  • You may feel a little tenderness and throbbing in the knee after surgery.
  • You may go back to work and continue daily activities when you feel you are able to and your doctor has cleared you to do this.
  • Be sure to keep the knee propped up for a few days after surgery to lessen swelling or pain.
  • Avoid strenuous activities.
  • There will be a follow up appointment requested by your doctor several days after your surgery.
  • You may receive pain medications after your surgery. Take medications as instructed by your surgeon.
  • You should be able to drive two weeks after surgery.
  • The doctor may have you go to physical therapy to continue the healing process of the knee.

What are complications associated with a Baker’s cyst?

You may feel the pain is too mild and leave the Baker’s cyst untreated. If left untreated:

  • The cyst may go away on its own.
  • The pain may get worse or the cyst can increase in size.
  • The cyst can burst and cause bruising in the lower leg.
  • If it doesn’t go away, the cyst might actually be a tumor or artery aneurysm. It is important to get the right diagnosis from a medical professional in this case.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 10/25/2016.


  • Better Health Channel: Baker’s Cyst
  • Fritschy, D., Fasel, J., Imbert, JC. et al. The popliteal cyst. Knee Surg Sports Traumatol Arthr (2006) 14: 623-628
  • Koplas M; Schils J; Sundaram M. The painful knee: choosing the right imaging test. Cleve Clin J Med. 2008 May;75( 5):377-84

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