With that in mind, your next step should be to work with your doctor to determine what is actually going on in your knee. X-rays or a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) exam can reveal arthritis, tears or other problems with the cartilage within the joint. If an underlying problem is discovered, then you can pursue treatment options for that condition.
In rare cases, a Baker’s cyst may not go away despite treatment of an underlying medical condition in the knee joint. Surgery to remove the cyst may be an option in such a situation, but it is rarely necessary.
While you’re investigating and treating the underlying cause of the cyst, take steps to decrease swelling inside your knee joint. That may include moving to a lower-impact exercise routine, regularly putting ice on your knee and using a compression sleeve. This should help relieve discomfort, as well as keep the cyst from getting bigger.
Also, be aware that in addition to symptoms of knee swelling, pain and stiffness, in some cases a Baker’s cyst can rupture, resulting in sudden calf pain and swelling. A ruptured Baker’s cyst may be mistaken for a blood clot in the leg, or deep vein thrombosis, a serious condition that requires immediate medical treatment. It can be hard to tell the two conditions apart based on appearance. If you have swelling associated with pain in your calf, seek medical attention right away. — Diane Dahm, M.D., Orthopedic Surgery, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn.