13 Ways to Manage Your Baker’s Cyst

13 Ways to Manage Your Baker’s Cyst

If you have mild to moderate stiffness and pain in the back or sometimes in the front of your knee, you might have a Baker’s cyst. Technically called a popliteal cyst (behind the knee is the popliteal crease or space), some people can develop this fluid filled sack that, in most cases, is not dangerous but can be bothersome. 

Once your doctor has diagnosed that you indeed have this development, try some of these 13 ways to manage your Baker’s cyst. 

Not From Baking

Some people (especially older folks) may give you the impression that a Baker’s cyst got its name from the repetitive bending a baker is prone to. Most believe that due to excessive flexing and extending of the knee, those in careers (such as baking) are more prone to this condition. As a result, behind the knee a “knot” or “hard sack the size of a marble or golfball” would form warning all beginning baker’s and similar laborers that require this type of constant physical action to be wary of such a pending threat. 

However, just like so much information that gets blurred through time, it has nothing to do with baking at all as the Baker’s cyst was named after the British surgeon who first described it, Dr. William Morrant Baker (1838-1896). 

How Do You Know?

Pain in or around the knee is a common occurrence. In fact, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians, “Knee pain affects approximately 25% of adults, and its prevalence has increased almost 65% over the past 20 years, accounting for nearly 4 million primary care visits annually.” Yet, there are many presentations of knee pain which can range from mildly annoying that occasionally occurs to not being able to walk. 

Determining if you have a Baker’s cyst should not be self-diagnosed as symptoms could indicate a host of other possibilities including potentially serious conditions. However, some signs and symptoms to look for, which your doctor should confirm, include:

  • Knee stiffness 
  • Pain in or around the knee joint
  • Calf pain
  • Popping, clicking, creaking, or even locking in the knee joint 
  • As mentioned, a “knot” or “hard sack the size of a marble or golfball” behind your knee
  • No protrusion, just a nagging or more serious pain in this posterior knee or calf space

Causes of a Baker’s cyst can be attributed to trauma, disease, joint degeneration, or no direct cause other than your body overproducing synovial fluid (natural joint lubricating substance). However, many presentations of this condition can be caused by knee arthritis, gout or a cartilage tear, particularly to the knee cushioning called the meniscus. 

Occurrences of this cyst is common in females over forty years old but it can afflict just about anyone at any time, although it is rare in children. It is also rare for a Baker’s cyst to rupture but if it does the Mayo Clinic describes a rupture as presenting as:

  • Sharp pain in your knee
  • Swelling in the calf
  • Sometimes, redness of your calf or a feeling of water running down your calf

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms be sure to see your doctor.


There are several ways to deal with a Baker’s cyst. Always check with your doctor before attempting any of these on your own. 

These are some exercises as recommended by Healthline. They could increase your range of motion, strengthen surrounding knee muscles, and decrease associated Baker’s cyst pain, discomfort or possibly size. 

Seated Hamstring Stretches

  • While seated, rest your heel on the floor with your knee straight.
  • Gently lean forward until you feel a stretch behind your knee and thigh.

Heel Side

  • Lie on your back with knees straight.
  • Slide the affected heel toward your buttock as you bend your knee.
  • Hold a gentle stretch in this position and then return to original position

Standing Calf Stretch

  • Start by standing close to a wall.
  • Step forward with one foot and keep both feet pointed toward the wall.
  • Keep the knee of your back leg straight.
  • Lean forward toward the wall and support yourself with your arms as you allow your front knee to bend until you feel a gentle stretch along the back of your straight leg.
  • Move closer or farther away from the wall to control the stretch of the back leg.

Wall Squat

  • Lean against a wall or a door, so that your feet are about a foot away from you.
  • Slide your body downward while keeping your back against the wall.
  • Hold for three-seconds, then return back to an upright position.


  • Begin with a resistance band around your ankles and your knees slightly bent.
  • Keep your weight on your heels as you slowly take a step out to the side and allow the other leg to follow without losing tension in the band.

Other management options include:

  • Elevating the knee
  • Acupuncture to reduce pain and increase mobility 
  • Icing once or twice per day to reduce inflammation
  • Using compression bandages or braces to support the knee
  • Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory remedies such as ibuprofen
  • Medical aspiration (removing fluid via needle, however this does not guarantee cyst removal as reoccurrence is common)
  • Physical therapy which may include many of these management options you can do on your own
  • Surgery which is rare due to cyst reoccurrence however if the cyst is impeding the rest of the knee joint this may be a valid option

If you develop this condition keep your knees healthy with these 13 ways to manage your Baker’s cyst.