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Baker's (Popliteal) Cyst


A Baker's Cyst (also known as a Popliteal Cyst) is a collection of fluid in the back of knee that may be painful.  This cyst may be associated with a meniscus tear and may also cause difficulty bending your knee fully.


Patient may feel pain or pressure behind the knee especially with deep flexion.  If large enough, the cyst may be visual from the outside. You may also have symptoms from the underlying cause of the cysts which is often a meniscus tear or arthritis.  These conditions may cause knee joint line pain, swelling, or catching of the knee.    


Diagnostic Testing

If the cyst/knee is painful, an Xray and MRI may be ordered to not only confirm the diagnosis, but to also look for other pathology that often occurs concomitantly with the Baker's Cyst such as a meniscus tear or cartilage damage.



If the cyst is painful, an aspiration to remove the fluid may be considered.  Dr. Lee can perform this in the office via ultrasound guidance.  An injection of cortisone to the area may also be considered.  If a significant meniscus tear or cartilage damage is associated with the cyst, surgery may be advised depending on the patient's symptoms and severity of tear.

Recovery Expectations

If the cyst and/or meniscus was debrided,  Dr. Lee will typically allow full weight bearing on the operated leg.  However, for the first few weeks, it is recommended that walking be kept at a bare minimum if possible.  After the sutures are remove at around a week, physical therapy is usually initiated emphasizing swelling control, range of motion, and progressive gentle strengthening.  Return to normal walking usually occurs at around 2-3 weeks, and normal activities including sports around 6-8 weeks. Please refer to Meniscus Tear page to learn more.

Immediate Post-Operative Instructions

Please refer to the following pages for more information:

*It is important to note that all of the information above is not specific to anyone and is subject to change based on many different factors including but not limited to individual patient, diagnosis, and treatment specific variables.  It is provided as an educational service and is not intended to serve as medical advice.  Anyone seeking specific orthopedic advice or assistance should consult Dr. Steven Lee or an orthopedic specialist of your choice.


*Dr. Steven Lee is a board certified orthopedic surgeon and is double fellowship trained in the areas of Hand and Upper Extremity Surgery, and Sports Medicine. He has offices in New York City, Scarsdale, and Westbury Long Island.  

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