What can be done for the condition?
There are two types of treatment for popliteal cysts: surgical and nonsurgical. Whether or not the cyst has ruptured, how painful the cyst has become, or how much it interferes with the normal use of your knee will determine which is the best course of treatment for you. In adults the treatment is most often nonsurgical. If surgery is needed, it is usually done on an outpatient basis, meaning you can leave the hospital the same day. Unless there is a lot of discomfort from the cyst, surgery is rarely required.
Nonsurgical treatments are usually most effective when the underlying cause of the cyst is addressed. In other words, the effects of arthritis, gout, or injury to the knee need to be controlled.
Your physiotherapist at Parkway Physiotherapy may use massage treatments, compression wraps, and electrical stimulation to reduce knee swelling. We may also use flexibility and strengthening exercises for the lower limb to help improve muscle balance in the knee.
Our physiotherapy sessions sometimes include iontophoresis, which uses a mild electrical current to push anti-inflammatory medicine to the sore area. This treatment is especially helpful for patients who can't tolerate injections.
Although the time required for recovery varies, with nonsurgical rehabilitation, a popliteal cyst may improve in two to four weeks. Improvement, however, depends a great deal on improvement in the underlying condition (the problems that are causing the knee to swell). As long as the joint continues to swell, the size of the cyst will ebb and flow. If the knee is kept from swelling, the cyst won't swell.
If nonsurgical methods fail, complete removal of the cyst may be needed. Once they are reassured that the cyst is not dangerous, many people simply ignore the problem unless it becomes very painful.
If you have surgery to remove the cyst, you can resume your daily activities and work as soon as you are able. You should keep your knee propped up for several days to avoid swelling and throbbing. Take all medicines exactly as prescribed, and be sure to keep all follow-up appointments.
You may need to use crutches or a cane for awhile, and avoid vigorous exercise for six weeks after surgery. Although the time required for recovery is different for each patient, you should be able to resume driving about two weeks after surgery. Your physiotherapist can then develop a personalized program to help you regain the strength in your leg.
Parkway Physiotherapy provides services for physiotherapy in Victoria, Westshore, Langford, Sooke.