Complex Injuries

Baker’s Cyst and Chiropractic Care

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A baker’s cyst can cause pain and swelling and limit mobility in the affected knee. In some cases, complications can develop, causing serious problems with the leg. The problem with this type of cyst is that even if it is drained, the cyst can return if the underlying cause isn’t addressed. Chiropractic can be used to treat Baker’s cyst and help relieve the pain that it causes.

What is a Baker’s Cyst?

A Baker’s cyst, also known as a popliteal cyst, is a fluid-filled lump behind the knee. Synovial fluid builds up to form the benign cyst. It starts inside the knee but eventually extrudes through the back part and forms a lump. There is often no discomfort or pain from the cyst, although there may be some pressure on the back side of the knee. The pain that is often associated with a Baker’s cyst is usually caused by the underlying problem that causes it. In some cases, a Baker’s cyst can become large enough to inhibit movement, impacting mobility.

What Causes a Baker’s Cyst?

A Baker’s cyst is caused by the overproduction of synovial fluid in the knee, leading to the fluid building up and forming a lump. There are several reasons that this can happen, including knee joint inflammation and injury to the knee. A meniscal cartilage tear or another knee cartilage injury can cause a cyst to develop. Certain types of arthritis in the knee, such as osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, can cause excess fluid to accumulate. Knee arthritis, a common condition among older adults, can also cause the development of a Baker’s cyst.

What are the Potential Complications of Baker’s Cyst?

Sometimes the location or size of a Baker’s cyst can cause swelling in the back of the knee. The cyst itself can be as large as a golf ball. This can put pressure on the joint, making it difficult to bend the knee. This pressure can extend through the calf muscle. The patient may experience tenderness and pain after exercising.

In rare cases, a Baker’s cyst can burst, causing the synovial fluid to leak into the calf. This can cause swelling and knee pain that is sharp and can be intense. The patient may notice redness in the calf or experience the sensation of water running down the back of the calf area. Because symptoms of a burst Baker’s cyst can closely resemble a blood clot in the leg, the patient should seek immediate medical attention to rule out a more serious condition.

How is a Baker’s Cyst Treated?

Some have no treatment for popliteal cysts, and they go away on their own. If a form of arthritis is causing the cyst, treating that problem may resolve the cyst. The same goes for a cyst caused by an injury to the knee. Once the injury is resolved, the cyst typically resolves as well.

If the cyst does not go away or is problematic, causing intense pain or limiting mobility, the patient may talk to their doctor about getting it drained. The doctor will use a needle, insert it directly into the cyst and drain the fluid. Steroid medications may also be prescribed to reduce inflammation and swelling. In very rare cases, surgery may be required to remove the cyst.

Chiropractic for Baker’s Cyst

Many patients choose to seek chiropractic care to treat a Baker’s cyst because it is noninvasive and does not use medications that can have unpleasant or harmful side effects. The chiropractor will assess the cyst and conduct diagnostic tests to determine the cause. This will help them decide the best course of treatment. Sometimes an old injury can continue to stress the joint, causing a lingering tension pattern. A chiropractor can address this, bringing the body back into alignment, thus alleviating the problem. This will help reduce the pain, inflammation, and swelling. Chiropractic is also an effective treatment for arthritis, so if that is the cause of the cyst, regular chiropractic care can help considerably. Once the underlying condition is corrected, the cyst goes away on its own.


Chiropractic Knee Rehabilitation

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The information herein on "Baker's Cyst and Chiropractic Care" is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional, or licensed physician, and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make your own healthcare decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified healthcare professional.

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Our information scope is limited to Chiropractic, musculoskeletal, physical medicines, wellness, contributing etiological viscerosomatic disturbances within clinical presentations, associated somatovisceral reflex clinical dynamics, subluxation complexes, sensitive health issues, and/or functional medicine articles, topics, and discussions.

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