Popliteal Cysts – Symptoms and Treatment

Popliteal cysts

Popliteal cysts, otherwise known as fibroma of the popliteal artery, are a condition which is generally caused by a build-up of calcium deposits in the area of the popliteal artery and can affect one or both legs. They are commonly accompanied by other symptoms, such as inflammation and bleeding, and the most common treatment involves surgery. However, you might be surprised to learn that many patients are cured after the surgery is over. The key to success in treating the condition is to ensure that patients are aware of the symptoms and the options available.

Common symptoms

Popliteal cysts are soft, fluid-filled sacs that form behind the knee. They may be painful, swollen, and limited in movement. Although they can be painful, they usually do not cause long-term damage. However, they can become worse if left untreated.

The most common causes of popliteal cysts include injury, arthritis, or gout. These problems can lead to inflammation in the knee, which results in excess synovial fluid. Once the inflammation is resolved, the swelling and pain should subside.

There are also cases of cysts that form due to a lack of supporting structures. It is important to identify the cause of the cyst before it becomes painful and dangerous. Depending on the severity of the problem, surgery or nonsurgical treatment might be recommended.

Usually, popliteal cysts do not cause long-term complications. But they can be extremely painful if they rupture. A ruptured cyst can irritate the calf, cause swelling, and even result in additional complications.

If you have a popliteal cyst, it is important to see a doctor. Your doctor will examine the joint to determine the cause of the swelling. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, ice, and rest can help relieve the pain. For severe pain, a needle may be placed into the joint to drain the fluid.

During the exam, your doctor will check the swelling and compare it to your healthy knee. You will also be asked about your medical history. He or she will ask about your symptoms, when they began, and whether you experience them with exercise or everyday activities.

Imaging tests such as X-rays or MRIs can confirm the presence of a popliteal cyst. In some cases, your doctor will use ultrasound to guide the placement of a needle.

To prevent popliteal cysts from developing, you should exercise regularly and strengthen the muscles around the knee. This will help increase your range of motion and reduce the amount of pressure on the joints. Also, avoid sitting for long periods of time, as this can aggravate the swelling.

While most popliteal cysts do not require treatment, you should always seek a doctor’s opinion if you have painful symptoms. Rest and ice packs are helpful to reduce inflammation and reduce the likelihood of a rupture.


The diagnosis of popliteal cysts is an important issue in clinical practice. These cysts are a common cause of knee pain, stiffness, and limited range of motion. They can be treated with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, arthroscopic surgery, and conservative treatment.

Popliteal cysts can be diagnosed with high diagnostic accuracy. Imaging tests such as ultrasound can confirm the presence of these cysts. Plain radiographs are also useful for this purpose. However, plain radiographs may not give much information about the cyst. This means that an imaging test such as ultrasound is recommended for symptomatic patients.

Baker’s cysts are not cancerous, but they do cause inflammation and swelling in the knee. Symptoms include pain, stiffness, and bruising. Treatment options include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, corticosteroid injections, and arthroscopic surgery.

To diagnose popliteal cysts, a doctor needs to understand the medical history of the patient. He or she will also perform a physical examination. If the symptoms are not severe, the cyst may go away on its own. On the other hand, if the cyst is large, it can interfere with blood flow in the leg.

Ultrasound is an effective tool for the diagnosis of Baker’s cysts. It is the gold standard in diagnosing this condition. Although it is not the only procedure that can detect this type of cyst, it is the preferred method.

Magnetic resonance imaging can also be used for the diagnosis of this condition. This is because it is capable of assessing whole organs. Hence, it is a more precise diagnostic method.

Plain radiographs can provide valuable information about any bone abnormalities in the joint. Unfortunately, it cannot replace ultrasonography or arthrography. However, it is an effective method to provide useful information about loose bodies in the cyst.

Popliteal cysts are rare in children. However, they can be seen in children with degenerative joint disorders or inflammatory conditions of the knee. In addition, they can be caused by tumours or lymphadenopathy. Children can also develop them in other locations.

Baker’s cysts can be prevented. If left untreated, they can grow in size and worsen.

Treatment options

Popliteal cysts or Baker’s Cysts occur in the knee and are usually due to injury or disease. The symptoms may include pain, swelling, and limited range of motion. Usually, they are mild but can be very uncomfortable. If left untreated, they can cause further problems. Fortunately, there are some treatment options for popliteal cysts.

Non-surgical treatments include rest, compression wraps, electrical stimulation, and cortisone injections. These methods can help reduce the swelling and inflammation that are associated with popliteal cysts. However, some sports physicians recommend that steroid injections be avoided if possible.

For symptomatic popliteal cysts, surgery is an option. During the procedure, a posteromedial portal is created in the soft spot five to eight millimetres medial to the medial head of the gastrocnemius. Afterwards, the wall of the cyst can be excised with a shaver.

Surgery is typically performed on an outpatient basis. In this type of procedure, the patient is supine. He or she is then held in a leg holder. This allows the surgeon to position the leg in a sterile fashion.

Surgical options for popliteal cysts include a direct arthroscopic excision of the cyst. Using a shaver, a posteromedial portal is also created, allowing the surgeon to insert an RF probe to remove the soft tissues.

In addition, the posterior popliteal approach is used in cases where the cyst is located close to the popliteal neurovascular bundle. It is also recommended that the underlying cause of the cyst be treated first. Depending on the severity of the symptoms, the surgery can be performed in a staged manner.

Popliteal cysts can also be treated with physical therapy. A physiotherapist might provide you with exercises and stretches to strengthen your muscles and reduce the force through your bones. Several sessions are often enough to notice the benefits.

Another treatment option for popliteal cysts involves EPAT Therapy or Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy. This therapy uses a high-energy shockwave to treat the knee. Although it can be dangerous, it is usually effective. EPAT is recommended for those with very inflamed knee joints.

Postoperative rehabilitation

Popliteal cysts are small sacs of fluid that form on the back of the knee. They usually develop due to injury or a defect in the joint capsule of the knee. Symptoms include swelling and aching of the knee. Surgical intervention is sometimes necessary to remove a cyst.

The success rate of surgery for popliteal cysts depends on the underlying cause of the condition. If the cyst is caused by a faulty joint, then surgical treatment may be successful. However, the optimum strategy for a popliteal cyst is to improve the communication between the cyst and the articular cavity. This can be accomplished with improved techniques.

Popliteal cysts are usually treated nonsurgically. Nonsurgical treatments include physical therapy and rest. In addition, injections of an anti-inflammatory drug can be used. When the pain is not too severe, electrical stimulation can be helpful. For patients who cannot tolerate injections, iontophoresis therapy is also a good option.

A systematic review was conducted to evaluate the clinical efficacy of different surgical approaches for popliteal cysts. The search was performed through EMBASE and the OVID databases on 10 July 2015. Study selection was limited to English language articles and case reports. Studies were categorized according to the methods used for surgery and the underlying diseases.

A total of nine studies were reviewed. Four studies removed the wall of the cyst. Three studies did not. These studies included an average of ten to twenty patients. Patients were evaluated in terms of the size of the cyst, the presence of intra-articular lesions, and the overall postoperative therapeutic efficacy.

A total of seven studies reported the effectiveness of arthroscopy. All but one of these studies reported concomitant management of intra-articular lesions by arthroscopy. One study was a prospective clinical trial. Another study investigated the prevalence of popliteal cysts.

Communication enlargement surgery is the ideal treatment approach for popliteal cysts. It is associated with an excellent success rate. It has a higher success rate than cyst wall resection and is comparable to the success rate of the non-cyst wall resection group.
Baker’s Cyst (Popliteal Cyst) – OrthoInfo – AAOS
Baker cyst – Symptoms and causes – Mayo Clinic


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