Knee > Baker's Cyst > Treatments


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Some baker's cysts may disappear after treatment with ice, heat, and anti-inflammatory medication. While under observation, your physician may be able to fully understand what has caused your cyst and develop a program to treat any underlying problem. There are several ways to reduce your pain and discomfort if you have been diagnosed with a baker's cyst:

   Ice your knee for about 20 minutes two to three times a day, as long as pain and swelling persist.

   Using a heating pad once a day or taking a warm bath can also help relieve swelling.

   Anti-inflammatory medication is prescribed if there is a source of inflammation, like frayed knee cartilage, that your doctor suspects is causing the cyst.

   Keep your knee elevated above your heart level to restrict the flow of blood into the joint.

   Avoid any movements that may press, squeeze, or pinch the cyst.

It is a good sign when your baker's cyst goes away with conservative treatment. The underlying cause of your baker's cyst may have only been a minor knee problem or disease that has subsided. Your knee is probably healthy and ready to endure activities. The amount of time patients spend under their physician's observation varies greatly with the circumstances. A baker's cyst is not a tumor, so if the cyst stops swelling and you do not feel pain, your doctor may suggest you continue ice and heat therapy indefinitely. If the cyst bothers you, physicians usually recommend further treatment within four to six months. Your general goal while under observation is to cut back or avoid strenuous activities, like contact sports, that could aggravate or inflame the joint lining. Unnecessary pressure from running, jumping, or twisting could cause the synovial membrane to more rapidly secrete joint fluid and increase the cyst's size.


In the absence of other knee complications, the amount of caution you should use during activities to prevent a baker's cyst from recurring depends on your age as follows:

   Children ­ Baker's cysts rarely affect joint function. Once cysts heal, they rarely return.

   Adults ­ The cyst may signal that you have sustained some degree of cartilage damage. Becoming less involved in strenuous activities, like contact sports or long distance running, may help prevent future Baker's cysts. But you do not need to avoid activities or be overly concerned with prevention unless the underlying cause of your Baker's cyst was a severe disease or injury that warrants extra prevention measures.

   Seniors ­ A baker's cyst may be more problematic later in life, harming the function of your knee joint, and you should continue to visit your physician for check-ups after the cyst heals. Because baker's cysts are common companions of rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, you should strongly consider cutting back your activity level to avoid situations that could strain your knee joint.

Weight control is also important. One extra pound of body weight translates into three or four pounds of weight across your knee every time you take a step. Lightening the load on your knees helps them to function better.

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