The cartilage and tendons around your knee joint are lubricated with synovial fluid. Synovial fluid reduces friction between the bones and other moving parts of the knee cap.
When the valves that control the flow of synovial lubricating fluid aren’t working properly it can cause a build-up of fluid known as a Baker’s cyst. The damage is often caused by swelling of the knee joint, a symptom of arthritis, or a knee injury like a torn cartilage.
In mild cases a Baker’s cyst doesn’t feel painful and you can develop a cyst you may not even notice. The symptoms of a cyst that needs to be assessed by a doctor include:
- Knee pain
- A bump that feels like a balloon filled with water
- Swelling behind the knee or in your leg
In any cases of pain and inflammation behind your knee, you should see a doctor and get a diagnosis. In rare cases, a bulge in this location can be a symptom of a tumour or a ruptured blood vein which needs immediate treatment. Your doctor may use Ultrasound or MRI scans to ensure you get the correct diagnosis.
A Baker’s cyst often needs no treatment and will just disappear after a few weeks. If the cyst is large and painful you may need some minor medical treatment and a course of physiotherapy treatments.
Excess fluid can be drained from the knee through a fine needle and in severe cases your doctor may inject a type of corticoid medication into your knee to reduce the swelling. This relieves pain in the short term but it’s not a treatment you can have often because it damages body tissue.
Physiotherapy can do a lot to reduce the swelling that may be restricting the range of movements in your knee joint and causing pain. Muscle relaxing massage and heat treatment are effective ways to reduce inflammation and loosen up stiff joints.
Gentle joint manipulation is a good way to increase the range of mobility in these cases and when combined with special exercises can make a big improvement in your ease of movement.
You’ll receive a personalised stretching and exercise plan especially designed to suit your level of fitness, age and any underlying medical conditions you may have. And you’ll regain or greatly improve your knee movements and be able to return to your normal activities in a short space of time!
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