Baker’s Cyst

Category: Education

What is a Baker’s cyst?

A Baker’s cyst, also known as a popliteal cyst, is a fluid filled swelling that forms on the back of the knee joint. This can cause tightness and pain whenuntitled-design fully bending or extending your knee, or when performing physical activity.  It may feel as though an orange or tennis ball is stuck behind your leg. Appropriate care and treatment will be key to helping you manage the appearance of a Baker’s cyst.

Why does it happen?

In adults, Baker’s cysts are often secondary to various conditions, most commonly Osteoarthritis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, and tears in the cartilage supporting the joint. Excess fluid in your knee joint moves into a space behind the knee and is not being reabsorbed. The aim of treatment will be to first understand why your cyst occurred, and what symptoms it may be contributing to.

The role of Physiotherapy

Baker’s Cysts can be caused by awide variety of underlying causes, and may or may not be contributing directly to your symptoms. Your Physiotherapist will perform a thorough assessment and

kneework with you to find the most effective treatment strategy. Some approaches for treating Baker’s cysts are:

  • Exercises, which may include stretching, mobilization, and strengthening
  • Education for self-management
  • Treating of underlying inflammation such as ultrasound, cryotherapy (ice)
  • Activity modification to limit painful movements
  • Acupuncture

Often a combination of techniques will be performed to treat the underlying cause(s) and to reduce your pain. The symptoms brought on by Baker’s cysts often resolve or become manageable after a course of treatment.


Herman, A. M., & Marzo, J. M. (2014). Popliteal Cysts: A Current Review. Orthopedics, 37(8).

Van Nest, D. S., Tjoumakaris, F. P., Smith, B. J., Beatty, T. M., & Freedman, K. B. (2020). Popliteal Cysts. JBJS Reviews, 8(3), e0139.