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Something is wrong with my knee!

Have you ever felt like a “ball” in the hollow of your knee that is somewhat painful and disturbing? This is called a baker cyst or popliteal cyst. This “ball” can be bothersome and restrict movement. We will see what is this pathology (disease), what causes it, what are the symptoms and how to make it go away.



A  Baker cyst is a pocket of synovial fluid that develops in the joint capsule of the knee. The joint capsule surrounds the bone to protect it. In the capsule, there is a liquid (the synovial fluid) that allows to properly lubricate the joint. The secretion of this fluid increases, which creates the pocket that can be felt to the touch at the back of the knee. This problem affects mainly adults, but sometimes children are affected.

The picture illustrates what could be found inside the posterior capsule of the knee in the case of a Baker cyst.

Screen Shot 2017-11-02 at 9.25.16 AM


There are three main causes to Baker cysts:

  • Aging
  • Meniscal injury
  • Articular inflammation: rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis


The symptoms will vary depending on the accumulation of synovial fluid in the joint. In general, the symptoms that arise most are pain in the back of the knee, but also in the calf. There will be a visible swelling behind the knee. If the swelling is large, the pain will be present at the activity, but also at rest.

What do I do now?

If the Baker cyst is bothering you, it might be a good option to consult your family physician. An ultrasound could be performed to determine the exact size and location. The doctor may prescribe anti-inflammatories. If the accumulation is important and symptoms are inconvenient, puncture and/or surgery may be considered.

But what do I do right now?

More specifically, cold compresses can be applied in the posterior to the knee. Rest is a very good solution also to reduce pain.

You can also make an appointment in physiotherapy: your muscles above and below the kneecap, as well as the posterior to the knee will be massaged to relax the area. Ultrasound can also be used to reduce inflammation.

In summary

In summary, the Baker cyst is an accumulation of fluid contained in the joint, which creates a pocket of fluid at the back of the knee. The symptoms of pain and tension will depend on the amount of fluid accumulated in the back of the knee. It is important to consult your doctor. It is also possible to see a physiotherapist to lessen the symptoms.

Sabrina Paquet TRP