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Baker's cyst

Find out how to treat a Baker's cyst using ibuprofen and an ice pack to help reduce pain and swelling. Further treatment will only be needed if you're unable to use your knee.

Treatment for a Baker's cyst isn't needed if you don't have any symptoms. Any symptoms you have can be treated at home.

Further treatment will only be needed if the cyst stops you using your knee or causes persistent pain.

To treat a Baker's cyst you can:

  • take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, to reduce swelling and pain in the affected knee
  • hold an ice pack to your knee for 10-20 minutes to reduce any swelling – try a bag of frozen peas wrapped in a tea towel (never put ice directly on your skin) 
  • rest your knee joint
  • use compression bandages to support your knee joint – you can buy these from a pharmacy

Further treatment

See your GP for further treatment if your cyst still causes problems after you've tried the above treatments.

One treatment option is to inject corticosteroid medication directly into the affected knee to help reduce swelling and inflammation.

Treating a ruptured cyst

A Baker's cyst can often rupture (burst), resulting in fluid leaking down into your calf. This causes a sharp pain in your calf which becomes red, swollen and tight.

The fluid will gradually be reabsorbed into the body within a few weeks. The recommended treatment for a ruptured cyst is rest and elevation (keeping the affected calf raised).

Prescription painkillers – usually a combination of paracetamol and codeine – can also be used to control any pain. See your GP for a prescription.

Surgery to repair knee damage

In some cases, it may be possible to drain (aspirate) a Baker’s cyst. However, it may not be possible to aspirate long-term (chronic cysts) because they’re made of jelly.

Surgically removing a Baker’s cyst isn't easy because unlike other types of cyst, they don’t have a lining.

Surgery may be needed to repair your knee joint if it's significantly damaged as a result of an injury or a condition such as osteoarthritis.

A type of keyhole surgery called arthroscopy is usually used. The surgeon will use an instrument called an arthroscope to look inside your knee joint. Small surgical instruments can be used alongside the arthroscope to repair any damage.

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