Baker's Cyst: Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

Baker's cyst

A Baker's cyst is a swelling behind the knee. It may cause pain or stiffness when you bend your knee or straighten it all the way. Baker's cysts are also called popliteal cysts.

If you have arthritis or another condition that is the cause of the Baker's cyst, your doctor may treat that condition. A Baker's cyst may go away on its own. If not, or if it is causing a lot of discomfort, your doctor may drain the fluid that has built up behind the knee. In some cases, a Baker's cyst is removed in surgery. There are things you can do at home, such as staying off your leg, to reduce the swelling and pain.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Rest your knee as much as possible.
  • Ask your doctor if you can take an over-the-counter pain medicine, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or naproxen (Aleve). Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
  • Use a cane, a crutch, a walker, or another device if you need help to get around. These can help rest your knees.
  • If you have an elastic bandage, make sure it is snug but not so tight that your leg is numb, tingles, or swells below the bandage. Ask your doctor if you can loosen the bandage if it is too tight.
  • Follow your doctor's instructions about how much weight you can put on your knee.
  • Stay at a healthy weight. Being overweight puts extra strain on your knee.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You have sudden chest pain and shortness of breath, and you cough up blood.

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have signs of a blood clot, such as:
    • Pain in your calf, thigh, or groin.
    • Redness and swelling in your leg or groin.
  • You have sudden swelling, warmth, or pain in any joint.
  • You have joint pain and a fever or rash.
  • You have such bad pain that you cannot use the joint.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:

  • You have mild joint symptoms that continue even with more than 6 weeks of care at home.
  • You have stomach pain or other problems with your medicine.

Where can you learn more?

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Current as of: March 21, 2017