Baker Cyst - Symptoms

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What are symptoms and signs of a Baker cyst?

A Baker cyst may cause no symptoms or be associated with knee pain and/or tightness, and stiffness behind the knee, especially when the knee is extended or fully flexed. Baker cysts are usually visible as a bulge behind the knee that is particularly noticeable on standing and when compared to the opposite uninvolved knee. They are generally soft and minimally tender.

Baker cysts can become complicated by spread of fluid down the leg between the muscles of the calf (dissection). The cyst can rupture, leaking fluid down the inner leg to sometimes cause the appearance of a painless bruise under the inner ankle. Baker cyst dissection and rupture are frequently associated with swelling of the leg and can mimic phlebitis of the leg. A ruptured Baker cyst typically causes rapid-onset swelling of the leg with bruising around the ankle.

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Comment from: Sandy, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: October 06

I am a 60 year old female. I am teacher of Special Education at a public school. Three weeks ago I got out of bed and when I stood up I had pain in the knee, like a small sprain. Over the next 2 weeks the pain became constant and localized on the outside of my left knee. The pain continued to get worse to the point that I could barely walk and bending it to sit on the toilet or get into a car caused a small scream from me. I am not a screamer but this was more intense than anything I had ever experienced. My pain varied from a 2 to an 8 on the pain scale. Doctor thought I might have a tear in the tendon on that side. An MRI showed a ruptured Baker's cyst and I have an appointment next week with an orthopedist. Ten days ago I felt like something popped in my knee. Not painful pop but like a balloon popped. Pain has been much worse, especially any bending of the joint. I have to use a cane to support when I walk. Everything I read about this cyst does not show my symptoms. The pain continues to be on the outside of the knee primarily, a small amount of pain running down the back of the calf but there is no swelling or bruising.

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Comment from: mary, 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: October 13

I was diagnosed with a ruptured Baker's cyst after months of agony and finally crying with a pain that couldn't be relieved with the strongest available medications. The cyst was inside my calf and was shaped like a sausage but was almost empty due to the rupture. This was evidenced by the ultrasound. I think the Baker's cyst wasn't diagnosed for so long because there was no bulge on the back of my knee. So it should be stated that sometimes the cyst is inside the calf and not visible without an ultrasound. I am still in pain 6 months later and will have an MRI tomorrow. I hope something can be done as I haven't been able to walk for almost 2 years.

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