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Popliteal Cysts

When individuals hear the term “cyst” used, they immediately tend to think of cancerous growths. However, it is important to note that most cysts are non-cancerous. The popliteal cyst is one such growth. The following paragraphs will describe this type of mass formation and list some general information regarding popliteal cysts such as cause, diagnosis and treatment.

Defining the Popliteal Cyst

Also known as the Baker’s cyst, a popliteal cyst is an abnormal joint fluid-filled sac which forms behind the knee of an individual. There are sacs located around the joint area in the knee region, known as bursae, which are normal; however, in the case of the popliteal cyst, the bursae has an abnormal extension which shoots outward from the back of the knee area and this is the popliteal cyst.

Causes of the Popliteal Cyst and Who Is Afflicted By It

The popliteal cyst can occur in both adults and children. The causes relating to adults are said to be due to osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, effusion or injury to the knee. With regard to children who have popliteal cysts, the causes of these types of growths in young ones is unknown, however it does not seem to be due to irritation of the knee region.

Symptoms of the Popliteal Cyst

The symptoms of this medical condition vary from individual to individual. Some people experience a wide range of symptoms while others experience none at all. For those individuals who are symptomatic, the various types of symptoms one may experience include a lump or fullness behind the knee, limited mobility in the knee region, pressure, swelling or tenderness. Those who experience symptoms as a result of the existence of a popliteal cyst usually state that the symptoms appear and disappear from time to time. It is important to keep in mind the fact that more severe symptoms may result should the popliteal cyst rupture.

Diagnosis of Popliteal Cysts

Individuals who have found formations of this type will usually go to their physician in order to have the strange mass diagnosed. The doctor will usually be able to form an opinion upon physical examination of the cyst with regard to what it really is. The medical professional should also check one’s medical history when making a proper diagnosis. Additional tests may need to be performed after the physical examination just to be sure that it is in fact a popliteal cyst. Some of these tests may include fluid withdrawal, x-rays, MRI and/or ultrasound. The reasons for doing further testing may be to make sure that other complications or issues are not present besides the popliteal cyst.

Treatment of the Popliteal Cyst and Possible Side Effects of Treatment

Once the doctor has come to a conclusion and given a firm diagnosis, it is then time to focus on the treatment aspect regarding the popliteal cyst. As popliteal cysts are non-cancerous and go away on their own, most of the time the best treatment is no treatment at all. There are certain situations, however, where some treatment measures must be taken with regard to the popliteal cyst. If pain and swelling are factors with regard to the existence of the cyst, the medical health professional may recommend draining the cyst. Also, if it appears that the cyst might rupture, drainage thereof might be called for as well. Should there be severity with regard to symptoms, surgery might be in order. However, this is usually reserved for those instances when other factors are the cause of the cyst such as a cartilage tear. Most often the doctor will simply recommend monitoring the popliteal cyst to make sure that the nature of it does not worsen.

Should the individual undergo treatment for the popliteal cyst, there are a few types of side effects which may go along with the treatment thereof. If the fluid is drained from the cyst, there is always the possibility of the cyst returning sometime after. Another side effect which may result is stiffness, nerve injury or infection. For the most part, since popliteal cysts go untreated except for monitoring, the side effects do not usually come into play.

Prevention of Popliteal Cysts

Many individuals who either hear about these types of cysts or have already had an occurrence of a popliteal cyst formation are especially interested in learning about any ways in which to prevent the occurrence or recurrence of this medical condition. For the most part, popliteal cysts cannot be prevented altogether. It is important to take into consideration certain exercise safety tips which may aid somewhat in making it less likely that one will develop a condition of this kind. As popliteal cysts may occur due to knee injuries and cartilage tears, by using common sense and applying certain exercise safety and wellness techniques, one can greatly increase their odds of not enduring the discomfort or aggravation of a popliteal cyst. Certain exercise precautions may include stretching, good shoes, good overall body conditioning, flexibility exercises and comfortable positions while performing various sports. By utilizing some of these cautionary techniques, the individuals engaging in various sports may help their cause when looking to prevent knee injury and the resulting medical conditions that may occur afterwards.

Long Term Effects of Popliteal Cysts

The popliteal cysts may come and go. Many individuals may wonder whether or not long term effects may occur as a result of having these types of cysts. For the most part, the answer is no. Once the popliteal cyst has disappeared, the individual will most likely be able to return to full activity as one was engaging in prior to the onset of the cyst. In certain rare occurrences, the individual may experience long term effects in cases where the popliteal cyst sticks around for a long period of time such as increased swelling, possible rupture, and pain. However, after the cyst has disintegrated the individual will most likely be able to carry on with life without any restrictions.

Popliteal cysts are a common occurrence, especially with athletic individuals; however, these cysts are ones which should not cause a great deal of concern as they will often go away on their own.

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