Baker’s Cyst After a Car Accident

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July 02, 2015
Edward Smith


You may be diagnosed with a Baker’s Cyst after a car accident if you experienced trauma to the knee.  This injury can also occur in other types of traumatic falls or collisions.

A Baker’s Cyst  may also be diagnosed as popliteal cyst.

Due to trauma, excess knee joint fluid (also called synovial fluid) can be pushed into the sacs of tissue that exist behind the knee joint.  The joint fluid that builds-up and accumulates in the tissue sac may eventually bulge out.

If these symptoms develop without a trauma inducing incident,  you likely suffer from arthritis or osteoarthritis.

If the cyst occurred after an accident, you may have a tear to the meniscal cartilage.

If you have a Baker’s Cyst, you may or may not have pain.   If you do not have pain but notice a tender soft fluid build up behind the knee it may startle you.  The injury may also come to your attention if you suddenly experience swelling behind knee that worsens with standing.  It may seem like a water filled balloon has just appeared behind your knee.  Seek treatment immediately to prevent the injury from worsening.

Most people who have a Baker’s Cyst report a first feeling pain, stiffness or tightness behind the knee. Most people do experience pain behind the knee.  Some experience pain behind the knee and pain in the upper calf.  If you experience this symptom, it will be worse when you bend the knee or attempt to straighten the knee all the way.

Many people who have pain in addition to the swelling describe the pain as ‘unbearable’ and ‘almost as bad as childbirth.’

Almost all patients report loss of motion to the knee due to the cyst.  The pain and loss of motion in the knee will make walking difficult.

One complication of Baker cysts is when the cyst ruptures.  The fluid that should have remained in the knee joint now is in the inner leg.  This will cause a ‘bruise-like’ appearance under the inner ankle and perhaps will cover a large part of your leg.  Depending on the amount of fluid in the cyst, the rupture of it can cause severe and rapid swelling of the leg.

See a medical provider when you notice the cyst and its symptoms to prevent the rupture of the cyst.  Since the pain or swelling may be bearable at first, many people, ‘just keep going.’ The pain and swelling may severely worsen which will impact your recovery time.

After a visual examination, the physician may request that you obtain an ultrasound, an x-ray or an MRI.  The ultrasound can help determine the contents of your cysts and help the physician understand its location.  An x-ray make be taken to see if there are any abnormalities, such as arthritis, causing the cysts.  An MRI may be ordered to determine if there is a meniscal tear to the knee and also helps pinpoint location and size.

The physician after examination, may not order further testing, but instead ask that you rest, elevate the leg and ice it for a certain period of time and then to return if the symptoms do not disappear.  If your symptoms do not disappear, the additional tests may then be ordered and a course of treatment may be prescribed.

Treatment can include a corticosteriod injection to reduce the inflammation you are experiencing.

The physician may drain ( or aspirate) the cyst.  Some patients may have to undergo this procedure more than once.

It is rare, but a surgery to remove the cyst, may also be performed on patients who have very severe pain.  Since the surgery can cause complications such as damaging blood vessesls and nerves that are vital to the knee, the physician will only perform this surgery on patients who have pain that experience severe uncontrollable pain.

Seeking medical attention is important as failure to do so can cause the cyst to return in the future.  Symptoms for this injury may continue to come and go.

I’m Ed Smith of the  My office has been helping Californian’s with traumatic injury claims since the 1980’s.  Since traumatic injury claims is the focus of our practice, we have a tremendous amount of experience with claims involving every and any kind of injury and diagnosis imaginable.

I have had client’s who have had Baker Cysts following auto accidents, motorcycle accidents, pedestrian vs auto crashes, slip and falls, and trucking collisions.  If you need legal assistance after sustaining a traumatic injury, please contact me to discuss your options.

I can be reached via my website or telephone (916) 921-6400 or (800) 404-5400.

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Image Attribution: By Hellerhoff (Own work) [GFDL ( or CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons