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Baker’s Knee Pain

Published: March 1, 2010

I have Baker’s knees. What causes it, and how can I get rid of the terrible pain?

Helen Z.


A cyst filled with lubricating synovial fluid from the knee joint causes Baker’s knee pain and can be treated or removed.

“A Baker’s cyst is usually caused by a problem within the knee joint, most commonly a torn meniscus or cartilage,” explains Dr. Eddie McDevitt, an orthopaedic surgeon who specializes in sports medicine. “Fluid from the knee joint escapes through the tear in the meniscus and accumulates 
in soft tissues behind the knee, causing swelling and pain especially when the person squats or bends.”

Ultrasound and MRI scans help diagnose a Baker’s cyst and rule out more serious causes of knee swelling and pain such as blood clots.

Many Baker’s cysts don’t require treatment. But when 
they do, using a needle to remove the excess fluid may alleviate symptoms, and treating the underlying cause 
with knee arthroscopy may cause the cyst to disappear, according to Dr. McDevitt. Surgery to remove the cyst may cure persistent problems.

“A Baker’s cyst has nothing to do with baking,” notes

Dr. McDevitt, “but instead gets its name from the 19th century British physician William Baker, who described

the condition.”

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