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First Treating a Baker’s Cyst

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Follow the R.I.C.E. method. A baker’s cyst is a fluid-filled cyst that causes a bulge at the base of the knee. It’s usually the result of an existing knee injury or a chronic condition like arthritis. Caring for your joints via the R.I.C.E. method can help.

– R.I.C.E. stands for resting your leg, icing your knee, compressing your knee with a wrap, and elevating your leg whenever possible.

– Rest your leg, preferably in an elevated position, as the cyst persists. Make sure to never place an ice pack directly on your body. Always wrap it in a cloth or towel first.[10]

– When wrapping your leg, buy a wrap at a drugstore and follow the instructions on the package. If you have any conditions that increase your risk of blood clots, do not wrap your leg without consulting with a doctor first.

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– R.I.C.E. might treat underlying joint pain that caused a the cyst to begin with. The cyst may decreases in size and stop causing pain.

– Try over the counter pain meds. While resting an elevating your leg, medications like ibuprofen, acetaminophen (Tylenol), and aspirin can help ease some of the pain.[11]

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Ask your doctor to drain the cyst. In order to get the cyst removed, you need a doctor to drain it. If your baker’s cyst does not respond to the R.I.C.E. method, see a doctor about having it removed medically.

– The fluid will be drained from your knee using a needle. While this is not extremely painful, many people find the activity anxiety-inducing. If you fear needles, as a friend or family member to come with you for support.[12]

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– Once the doctor drains the fluid, the baker’s cyst should be gone. However, there is a chance the cyst will reoccur in the future. Talk to your doctor about any underlying health conditions that might have caused the cyst.[13]

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Participate in physical therapy. After the cyst is drained, your doctor might recommend you engage in regular physical therapy. Gentle motion, guided by a trained therapist, can help you get your joints back in form. It can also help address any issues that caused the cyst to develop. Ask your doctor for a recommendation for a physical therapist after your cyst is drained.[14]

Coping with Ovarian Cysts

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Watch and wait. Ovarian cysts are fluid filled sacs found on the surface of the ovaries. Unfortunately, ovarian cysts can be difficult to remove. The best approach after the initial diagnosis is to watch and wait.

– Some ovarian cysts may go away on their own. Your doctor might want you to wait and then get reexamined after a few months have passed.[15]

– Your doctor will have to monitor the cyst on a regular basis to see if it’s changed in size. After a certain point, medical intervention may be necessary.[16]

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Ask about birth control pills. Birth control pills are usually the first course of action to lessen ovarian cysts. Ask your doctor about getting a prescription for hormonal birth control pills.

– Hormonal birth control pills can decrease the size of existing cysts and prevent further cysts from developing. They also decrease the risk of ovarian cancer, especially if you take them for a long duration.[17]

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– Birth control comes in a variety of formulations and dosing schedules. Some allow for a monthly bleed, and others for less frequent bleeding. Some have iron supplementation, and others do not. It is imperative to talk with your primary care provider to discuss which option fits with your lifestyle, goals, and overall health and history.[18]
Treatment for a Baker’s cyst isn’t needed if you don’t have any symptoms. Any symptoms you have can be treated at home.
Further treatment will only be needed if the cyst stops you using your knee or causes persistent pain.
To treat a Baker’s cyst you can:
take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, to reduce swelling and pain in the affected knee
hold an ice pack to your knee for 10-20 minutes to reduce any swelling – try a bag of frozen peas wrapped in a tea towel (never put ice directly on your skin)
rest your knee joint
use compression bandages to support your knee joint – you can buy these from a pharmacy

– Some women experience side effects like breast tenderness, mood swings, or bleeding between periods when they first start taking hormonal birth control. These side effects usually lessen after a few months.[19]
Further treatment
See your GP for further treatment if your cyst still causes problems after you’ve tried the above treatments.
One treatment option is to inject corticosteroid medication directly into the affected knee to help reduce swelling and inflammation.
Treating a ruptured cyst
A Baker’s cyst can often rupture (burst), resulting in fluid leaking down into your calf. This causes a sharp pain in your calf which becomes red, swollen and tight.
The fluid will gradually be reabsorbed into the body within a few weeks. The recommended treatment for a ruptured cyst is rest and elevation (keeping the affected calf raised).
Prescription painkillers – usually a combination of paracetamol and codeine – can also be used to control any pain. See your GP for a prescription.
Surgery to repair knee damage
In some cases, it may be possible to drain (aspirate) a Baker’s cyst. However, it may not be possible to aspirate long-term (chronic cysts) because they’re made of jelly.
Surgically removing a Baker’s cyst isn’t easy because unlike other types of cyst, they don’t have a lining.
Surgery may be needed to repair your knee joint if it’s significantly damaged as a result of an injury or a condition such as osteoarthritis.
A type of keyhole surgery called arthroscopy is usually used. The surgeon will use an instrument called an arthroscope to look inside your knee joint. Small surgical instruments can be used alongside the arthroscope to repair any damage.

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