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Baker's cyst.

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Hello, I practice ashtanga yoga once or twice a week and ride my bicycle around town. Yesterday evening I went to a yoga session and was taught a new posture that required a high level of flexibility in my knees, in addition to performing several others in the same session that are normally demanding on knees, and then I rode home on my bike.

I've never had a problem before with my knees (I'm hyperflexible so I've always taken care to try and not overextend my joints), but after my session I noticed a bulbous lump behind my knee. It doesn't hurt, really, but I feel stiffness, weakness and a general feeling of "I should not be doing this" pressure in the area when I walk or move my knee. I did my research, of course. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baker's_cyst ...and I'm keeping off my feet and taking ibuprofen.

I only recently signed up for health insurance a week ago and haven't received my policy papers yet in the mail. I'm not sure if I should wait to receive them and meanwhile see if it gets better, or if I should go to a doctor tomorrow. I should also note that I have no idea how much it would cost if my insurance is not in effect and I'm currently in between paychecks.

Lastly, how long must the average person generally wait for it to heal/go away? Are we talking a week of no exercise and little walking, just sitting down, or less time, or more? Thanks in advance!

Category: Family Physician-GP

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Dr. Deepu Sebin Sebastian is online now

Expert:  Dr. Deepu Sebin Sebastian replied 4 Days.


Thank you for asking your query at DoctorSpring.

Your self diagnosis appears to be correct indeed. This swelling is most probably a popliteal cyst or Baker's cyst. In your case this could be due to a synovial fluid leak or bulge from an unaccustomed activity (that is the Yoga posture) .

Yes, you can wait a week or two (or even more if the symptoms are resolving) to see the Doctor. It is difficult to say how long the average healing time is because as you might have already read the cause for this cyst varies. So the healing time also varies. In your case , it could be a month or so. But as I said it depends on a lot of factors.

Till you get medical care you will need to rest the knee. That means no activity that puts knees on strain/impact - No gym, cycling, running. squatting, yoga etc. Avoid prolonged periods of standing and walking too . This will prevent any possible cartilage damage. Your Doctor might ask for an Xray and ultrasound to get to know the cause of the cyst.

You can continue taking NSAID medication Ibuprofen. Compressive bandage might be helpful but I recommend getting it only after consulting your Doctor. If you have sudden severe pain of the knees, pain and/or redness, increasing swelling with or without pain, sudden decrease in swelling (indicates rupture) you should get in touch with your Doctor / ER without delay. These are the warning signs you have to look for.

Hope this helps
Please feel free to ask followup questions.
Thank you

Patient replied :

Thank you. I'll wait a few days and see how it goes. Will I be able to swim, perhaps? Or some other form of exercise?

Expert:  Dr. Deepu Sebin Sebastian replied 3 Days.

Swimming is safer than other form of exercise (as it is low impact on knees). However
I would recommend against doing any kind of exercise (including) in this acute stage, atleast for a
week or two. There is a possible synovial fluid loss. So the knee joint will cartilages
can come in close apposition causing friction and damage. (because of the lack of lubrication).
This can lead on to long term complications like secondary osteoarthritis later in life. The chance for this is less, but still its better to play it safe.

Thank you

Dr. Deepu Sebin Sebastian
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MD, Internal Medicine - Stanley Medical School
Medical School - MBBS - Govt. Medical College, Kottyaam

Diagnostic Prediction - Stanford School of Medicine
Received Specialty training in Critical Care, Cardiology, Neurology, Gastroenterology, Nephrology from Stanley Medical College and in Endocrinology, Rheumatology.

Hematology and Geriatrics from Madras Medical College.
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