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Treating Baker cysts with Manual Lymphatic Drainage

Treating Baker cysts with Manual Lymphatic Drainage

A Baker cyst, also known as a popliteal cyst, is a fluid-filled benign growth behind the knee. It causes a bulge which creates the feeling of tightness and swelling around the knee joint. A Baker cyst can cause pain that increases with activity or when fully extending or flexing the knee.

A Baker cyst is usually the result of a problem with the knee joint, such as arthritis or a cartilage tear. These conditions have an inflammatory presentation. Inflamed knee response by production of excess synovial fluid, which builds up inside the joint, creating a posterior bulge and forming the cyst.

Inflamed, stiff and swollen knees have reduced movement, which further exaggerate reduced drainage inside of the joint, making a cyst function almost as an additional storage of that inflamed and positively unhappy synovial fluid.

Management of Baker’s cyst is traditionally in the hands of a GP or a physiotherapist, where courses of antiinflammatory medication and cortisone injection have been prescribed. Patients have been commonly discouraged to receive massage avoiding bursa (cyst) to be further irritated by friction.

However manual lymphatic drainage(MLD) is a different form of gentle bodywork. Practitioner works by stimulating the lymphatic system and encouraging the movement of a lymph and its lymphatic load through the lymph nodes to be purified and returned back to the bloodstream. In the case of the knee affected by Baker cyst, the main objective of MLD treatment is firstly by clearing the pathway of drainage, almost like a preparing road for increased traffic. Secondary target is the knee itself, where gentle decompression and mobilisation of the knee joint increases its own drainage. Achieving sufficient movement on its own will be an effective way of removing the excess synovial fluid.

Additional advantage of MLD treatment is that large particles such as inflammatory proteins will be removed from the area during this time by increased lymph drainage. It is very beneficial that Baker’s cysts are surrounded by a large collection of lymph nodes; popliteal nodes, which when stimulated by MLD have an increased ability to work harder for a few hours after treatment.

The effects of manual lymph drainage can be magnified by lymphatic taping, which is a form of targeted decompressive therapy and use of Low level laser.  Both of those techniques are available in our clinic and are used by both our MLD practitioners (Hailin and Zuzana) to enhance the effect of MLD.

While it is also important to address the underlying cause of the knee problem to prevent further cysts developing, manual lymphatic drainage can provide relief while further investigations and treatment is undertaken.

If you are would like to know more about Manual Lymphatic Drainage and the treatment of Baker’s cysts please contact Elemental Health at info@elementalhealth.net.au

Posted on 8 February 2023
Author:Elemental Health
Tags:Pain managementManual lymphatic drainageMassage

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