The knee joint relies on lubricating fluid to reduce friction between the moving components. In some cases, too much joint fluid can be created, leading to pouches or lumps of fluid accumulating inside the knee joint. A popliteal, or Baker’s cyst, is a lump of joint fluid that can occur in the knee, impacting the function. Dr. Steven Struhl at Shoulders & Knees offers Baker’s cyst treatment to improve knee function at our clinics in NYC and Westchester.

A Baker’s cyst is usually caused by another joint condition. Inflammation of the knee joint from a meniscus tear, osteoarthritis, gout or an injury is usually the catalyst for the forming of a Baker’s cyst. The excess synovial fluid can push against the knee joint capsule lining, creating a sac-like protrusion at the back of the knee. The Baker’s cyst can often be felt as a soft lump in the hollow behind the knee, between the two hamstring tendons. Symptoms can include knee aching, pain, weakness or instability.

Treating a Popliteal Cyst

Many Baker’s or popliteal cysts may be treated without surgery. The excess fluid can be removed from the cyst with a syringe in an office visit. Simple fluid extraction; however, has a very high recurrence rate because removing the cyst fluid does not affect the underlying condition that caused it in the first place. In most cases, within just days of aspiration, the sac refills with fluid, and the symptoms return. The key to treatment is successful treatment of the underlying condition in the knee that is causing the excessive fluid. When the cause of the fluid is eliminated the cysts shrink on their own and direct treatment becomes unnecessary. In some cases, an injection can reduce the fluid-forming inflammation, with cortisone or biological techniques such as PRP or stem cells. Alternatively, surgery is recommended. A meniscus tear or low-damaged articular cartilage can generate enough inflammation to cause excessive fluid and a simple arthroscopy procedure to shave the damaged tissue is all that is needed. This is minimally invasive and is done on an outpatient basis.

Dr. Struhl offers effective treatment for painful knee conditions, including Baker’s cyst. Dr. Struhl can address the underlying injury or condition that caused the cyst to form and successful treatment will result in cyst shrinkage and disappearance. To learn more about treatment for Baker’s cysts, contact our clinic to schedule a consultation