At-Home Relief of Knee & Leg Cyst Pain

Doctor examining her patient knee
A doctor is working a patient's knee. (Image: Wavebreakmedia/iStock/Getty Images)

Cysts that form on the back of your knees and legs are known as Baker's cysts. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, Baker's cysts form when the fluid from your joints builds up, causing your skin to protrude and mild to moderate pain. These cysts are more common in people who suffer arthritis of the knee joints, complicating discomfort during standing and sitting.

Causes

Baker's cysts, medically referred to as a popliteal cyst, mainly occur from trauma of your knee. Inflammation or injury can cause knee fluids to accumulate instead of being circulated through your joints, according to MayoClinic.com. Tears in the knees connecting tissues and cartilage as well as herniation of the knee joint are more apt to occur in people who are active in sports and aging people. Treatment of these underlying conditions is important in your treatment and recovery.

Treatment

Although medical treatments are available, the University of Maryland Medical Center says cysts usually don't require this form of intervention. Treatment for cyst pain makes you more comfortable as your body naturally heals itself. Resting your legs frequently throughout the day helps alleviate inflammation and prevents further strain on your knees. While resting, apply ice to your cyst, allowing for further inflammation assistance. When standing for longer periods, compression stockings or a bandage wrapped around your knee help support your muscles and ensure proper blood flow. Make sure that you elevate your legs during rest periods to increase blood flow. This pattern of treatment is known as the RICE method, according to Runner's World magazine.

Healing Time

Cysts heal on their own, with treatment measures relieving pain and inflammation. But healing doesn't happen overnight. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, cyst healing depends on your body and its ability to bounce back from injury. Inflammation and pain may take two to six months to heal, Runner's World says. Although there is no clear-cut answer as to when you will be free of this pain and associated cyst, taking proper care of your legs and knees helps.

Exercise

With many injuries, exercise is recommended for faster healing and strengthening. But during home treatment, physical exertion while a cyst is present is not always best. According to Runner's World, jogging and other exercises are OK in moderation but you risk further damage if your cyst ruptures during exercise. If you must perform physical activity, keep it light -- such as with stretching, yoga or Pilates. Avoid excess jogging, aerobics or weightlifting until you are completely healed.

Considerations

Baker's cysts are normally a secondary problem, requiring medical examination in finding the main health issue. Arthritis and injury are to blame for many Baker's cysts; however, in some cases you may not be dealing with a Baker's cyst at all. Runner's World warns that a condition called an arterial aneurysm mimics cyst appearance and is potentially life-threatening. The University of Maryland Medical Center suggests visiting your doctor as soon as you notice any swelling denoting a cyst. Baker's cysts are rarely debilitating or cause long-term disability.

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