Your knee has a number of cysts around the joint. These come in many shapes and forms and are essential closed sacs that are filled with liquid.
The most common cyst that can cause us trouble is a Popliteal Cyst, often referred to as a Baker’s Cyst, named after William Morrant Baker who first described it in the 1800s. A Baker’s Cyst occurs at the back of the knee. Children may experience this if there is a connection of a normal bursa with the knee joint. In adults, it is often associated with knee arthritis, ligament, or meniscus injuries. While Baker’s cysts are not a serious problem, obtaining full range of motion of the knee can be difficult and painful.
A Baker's cyst can be soft to the touch and slightly tender, however many people may have no pain at all. You may have no symptoms other than a visible bulge or tight feeling behind the knee. When the knee is extended, it can become tighter or more painful. The cyst may feel like a water balloon and can actually shrink or swell over time. It can burst underneath the skin causing redness and pain in the calf. This fluid is ultimately reabsorbed by the body but can be disconcerting in the process.
What therapy can do for you
Your physical therapist will initially work with you to reduce the inflammation and control your swelling, utilizing the appropriate modalities and/or compression strategies. If there is an underlying condition causing the cyst, the therapist will use manual therapy techniques to address musculoskeletal imbalances and therapeutic exercise to strengthen weak muscles and increase flexibility of muscles and joints where needed. Instruction in long term self management is an essential component of any therapy program, in order to prevent recurrence of the problem.