Ever heard of a baker’s cyst? Medically speaking, a baker’s or popliteal cyst is the result of excessive accumulation of synovial fluid (the fluid that lubricates the joints) especially in the knees. Pressure in the joint is increased, causing pain and discomfort to the patient. Over time, the bulging cyst would move to the back of the affected knee, thus called popliteal cyst since it usually occurs near the popliteal vein at the back of the knee.
A person is predisposed to the condition if in the past, he had meniscal tears, osteoarthritis, or rheumatoid arthritis. Meniscal tears are damage made on the meniscus, or discs between the knee joints.
Early on the onset of the condition, a person with baker’s cyst may not exhibit discomfort or pain. Usually, he’ll only feel a little stiffness or swelling at the back of the knee which tends to go away at some point. Later on, the stiffness turn to pain, and when pain is no longer tolerable, the affected knee allows only limited movement. The cyst can be palpated from under the skin, and it feels like a sac of fluid that’s ready to bulge anytime. Once the cyst ruptures, it can cause severe pain, bruising of the kneecap, and swelling. Although there are people who think that having baker’s cyst is simply an annoying experience, others think it should be given proper medical attention immediately.
Your doctor will advise you to undergo ultrasound of the cyst and the calf to detect the presence of deep vein thrombosis. This is the most fatal complication of baker’s cyst since the blood clot in the vein may dislodge and travel to other parts of the body, causing tamponade when it unfortunately reaches the heart. If the cyst is not life-threatening, your physician may have to order sterile puncture and aspiration of the cyst. The cyst is not removed, unless it is large or the pain it causes is quite intolerable.