Best 5 Exercises for a Baker’s Cyst

A popliteal synovial bursitis, also known as a Baker’s cyst, is mostly associated with conditions that affect knee articular surfaces, such as meniscus tears or osteoarthritis. It is a small sac filled with fluid that collects behind the knee (popliteal fossa). At this point, we often tell our patients, don’t think of this condition as a “cyst”. Most people’s perception of a cyst is a hard round lump in the body, and this is usually the case. However, a Baker’s cyst is not a hard round cyst, but it’s a soft synovial fluid-filled swelling. This is often called a bursitis, or inflamed bursa. It's much more like a pouch that is soft and filled with fluid.

Causes of a Baker's Cyst

A Baker's cyst is caused by an accumulation of synovial fluid, which is the fluid that lubricates the knee joint. The excess fluid can accumulate in a sac located behind the knee, causing the cyst to form. There are several reasons why this excess fluid may accumulate, including knee joint injury, osteoarthritis, or inflammation. We commonly see patients come to us at Surrey Physio with a Baker’s cyst and they are often secondary to a degenerative meniscus tear, or degenerative changes caused by arthritis.

Symptoms of a Baker's Cyst

Barker's cysts are commonly seen in adults aged 45 to 80 and as mentioned they are often linked to degeneration of the knee. Conditions such as rheumatoid and osteoarthritis increases the risk of a fluid forming a Baker's Cyst. Most people complain of tightness, discomfort or pain behind the knee. You will often notice your knee feels tight, or restricted, and many people complain that they cannot fully bend their knee. Swelling might be both visible and palpable behind the knee when the knee is fully extended or when you are active.

Treatment for a Baker's Cyst

Non-operative management is often prescribed, these involve, aspiration, rest, pain relief, strengthening the muscles around the knee, or a steroid injection to the knee. Read more about the treatment options in this article. Surrey Physio can provide a range of treatment options to help manage the symptoms of a Baker's cyst. These may include aspiration, manual therapy, exercise therapy, and ultrasound therapy. Most people just want them removed, so we end up doing quite a lot of knee aspirations. We offer aspirations for Baker’s cyst at our clinics in Croydon and Farnborough. If the swelling is very small, we may not get much out. If the swelling is moderate or large, we’ll usually be able to aspirate it. The cost of aspiration is £140.00. This video will show you the process:

Manual Therapy

Manual therapy involves hands-on techniques to help reduce pain, improve mobility, and promote healing. Surrey Physio may use techniques such as massage, stretching, and joint mobilisation to help manage the symptoms of a Baker's cyst.

Exercise therapy

Exercise Therapy involves specific exercises designed to improve strength, flexibility, and range of motion in the affected knee. Surrey Physio can design a customised exercise program to help manage the symptoms of a Baker's cyst and prevent further injury.

Ultrasound Therapy:

Ultrasound therapy involves the use of high-frequency sound waves to promote healing and reduce pain and inflammation. Surrey Physio may use ultrasound therapy to help manage the symptoms of a Baker's cyst and promote healing in the affected knee.

Try these 5 exercises to Improve your Baker’s Cyst:

How to Ice the back of your knee

If you can, first consider an aspiration. At Surrey Physio, we aspirate Baker's cyst's fairly regularly. Ice is a slower route, but with time you can also reduce the swelling but it really does take time. Lying on your front, place an ice pack or pack of frozen peas over the back of your knee. Be careful that it’s not too cold, you may need to wrap it in a thin towel. Using ice can help reduce inflammation and pain. Hold the ice pack on for 10 minutes and repeat twice per day.

Hamstring Stretch

Lying down on your back, bend your hip until you can feel a stretch behind your thigh (in the hamstring muscles). Use a towel to apply some overpressure and create a stronger stretch. Hold the stretch for a minimum of 30 seconds, and repeat three times. If you can hold the stretch for longer, even better, and ideally up to two minutes per stretch would be useful.

Stretch Your Calf Muscles

Stand with your toes on the edge of a step or a box. Hold onto something stable for support if required. Drop the heel of one foot downwards. You should feel a stretch just below the back of your knee, in the calf. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds and repeat twice. Longer stretches may be more beneficial too.

Passive Knee Bend

Sit down on the floor, and place a towel around your foot. Gently pull the towel to bend your knee. Try to keep your knee relaxed at all times. Straighten your knee to return to the start position. This is a good exercise to improve mobility in a stiff knee joint. Mobilising your knee can help to improve range and reduce inflammation. Repeat 25 times, once or twice per day.

How to do a Quadriceps Stretch with a Towel

Lie face down, and bend your knee bringing your heel towards your bottom. Use your hand to pull your foot, or if you cannot reach, use a towel wrapped around your foot. You will feel a stretch into the front of your thigh. If you get any cramp, stop the exercise. This exercise helps to stretch the quadricep muscle group. Perform gently. Hold the stretch for around 30 seconds, and repeat three times.

A Baker's cyst can be a painful and uncomfortable condition that can limit your mobility and range of motion. However, with the help of Surrey Physio, you can manage the symptoms of a Baker's cyst and promote healing in the affected knee. Surrey Physio can provide a range of treatment options, including manual therapy, exercise therapy, and ultrasound therapy, and we also provide aspiration to drain them. We can help you manage the symptoms of a Baker's cyst and prevent further injury, and in many cases significantly improve the Baker’s cyst. If you are experiencing any knee pain, stiffness, or swelling, do not hesitate to contact Surrey Physio to discuss your treatment options.

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If you are a patient, in pain, or elite performance, please call us to discuss your case further. Surrey Physio have an amazing team of therapists to help you recover from pain, but also to achieve top performance. Call us on 0208 685 6930 or click here to book online.)