This fluid-filled lump, called a Baker cyst, causes a feeling of tightness behind your knee. If the cyst is small, you might not notice it much, or it might hurt just a little bit. But if the cyst is large (some can get to be the size of a grapefruit), well, that can look pretty scary. And it might be painful and limit how well you can move your leg.
Cleveland Clinic is a national leader in bone, muscle and joint care. We can help you find relief by treating the Baker cyst itself or finding and treating whatever caused the cyst in the first place. We want to get you moving again with as little stiffness and pain as possible.
Why Choose Cleveland Clinic for Baker Cyst Care?
At Cleveland Clinic, our specialists are experts at diagnosing and treating common musculoskeletal conditions to the most complicated bone, joint or connective tissue disorders. Meet our team.
We want you to understand exactly what a Baker cyst is and what your treatment options are. Our specialists take the time to explain what’s going on and answer any questions you have. It’s always our goal to keep you in the loop and on top of your care.
At Cleveland Clinic, we work as a team to give you comprehensive and personalized care. Our team includes orthopaedic medicine specialists, surgeons and oncologists, rheumatologists, podiatrists, sports medicine physicians, musculoskeletal radiologists, physician assistants, nurse practitioners and physical therapists.
Innovation and research:
Our ongoing research lets us offer you the newest treatment options, including minimally invasive, tissue-sparing and robotic procedures if you have a severe case.
We want your care to be as convenient as possible. That’s why we also offer virtual visits — especially to help you understand your condition and get you started on your journey with us — from the comfort of home, or wherever is most convenient for you. All you need is a smartphone, tablet or computer.
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Baker Cyst Diagnosis at Cleveland Clinic
Your care starts with a conversation. At your appointment, your provider will ask about your medical history and symptoms and do a physical exam with a special focus on your knee. Since the symptoms of a Baker cyst can be similar to serious conditions, like a blood clot or tumor, your provider may do one or more of these imaging tests to confirm a diagnosis:
- X-ray: A Baker cyst won’t show up on an X-ray, but an X-ray can show other conditions, like arthritis, that might be causing the cyst.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): An MRI uses powerful magnets, instead of X-rays, to show detailed pictures inside your body. An MRI will show the Baker cyst and may give us a better idea about what could be causing it.
- Musculoskeletal ultrasound: This special ultrasound uses sound waves to see if the cyst is solid or filled with fluid.
Providers Who Treat Baker Cysts
LocationsOur healthcare providers see patients at convenient locations throughout Northeast Ohio and Florida.
Baker Cyst Treatment at Cleveland Clinic
A Baker cyst often goes away on its own. Your provider may suggest starting with the RICE method:
- Resting your leg.
- Applying ice to your knee.
- Using compression wraps on your knee to lessen joint swelling.
- Propping your knee up when you’re resting, so it’s above your heart.
Your treatment might also include taking anti-inflammatory medication, like ibuprofen (Advil® or Motrin®), managing your weight, avoiding activities that can put a lot of stress on your knee (like running and jumping), using a crutch or cane or physical therapy.
Surgery is rarely used to treat a Baker cyst. However, if your pain is really bad, and it’s very hard to move your knee, your provider might use musculoskeletal ultrasound to find the cyst behind your need and then drain it using a very small needle (aspiration). They may also give you a steroid injection in your Baker cyst or knee joint to reduce swelling.
Taking the Next Step
Baker cysts are common, usually harmless and often go away on their own. But swelling and pain that don’t go away can be a sign of infection or even a more serious condition, like a blood clot or tumor. It’s important to see your healthcare provider right away for a correct diagnosis. If a knee injury or other medical condition, like arthritis, is causing your Baker cyst, treating that underlying issue is the best way to get rid of the cyst entirely and keep it from coming back.
Learn more about how we diagnose and treat Baker cysts at Cleveland Clinic. Call to request an appointment or schedule a virtual visit.
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