A popliteal or Bakers cyst occurs when the fluid that lubricates the knee increases and spills into the bursa (a small sack of fluid that helps joints to move smoothly) at the back of the knee, causing inflammation. In young athletes this problem may be caused by torn cartilage. In older athletes arthritis is generally the cause.
A popliteal cyst results in a round, golf ball size swelling in the knee. It feels as though there is pressure in the back of the knee and bending the knee is difficult. Exercising with a Bakers cyst causes aches and tenderness.
Resting the knee can help cure the problem, especially if the patient is young. However, if the cyst does not heal on its own, it may be a sign of a larger problem, such as a cartilage tear, osteoarthritis or a damaged kneecap. In serious cases, surgery may be needed to remove the bursa which will result in eight to twelve weeks of resting the knee post-surgery.
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