Massage, Bodywork and Baker’s Cysts

Along with an increasing number of new clients many massage therapists are gaining comes an increasing number of health conditions being presented, some that you may not have been previously aware of. Among these diverse health conditions that every massage therapist should know about is something called a Baker’s cyst, a swelling at the back of the knee. It is important to understand the basics of this condition prior to beginning a massage, as it may be serious enough to require a physician’s referral.

Most Baker’s cysts are formed after experiencing a knee injury, when excess fluid builds up in the tissue surrounding the knee joint. They also occur frequently in adults between the ages of 55 and 70, due to osteoarthritis. There may not be any pain or discomfort associated with the cyst, leading many people to believe it is not harmful. However, while most people don’t experience any symptoms, some may have slight pain and stiffness, and possibly a feeling of pressure behind the knee. Many physicians choose to relieve the symptoms and drain the excess fluid through surgical/medical procedures, however the relief is often temporary. Massage therapy is a valuable alternative method offering longer lasting relief of swelling, and can even help improve knee flexibility. One particularly beneficial modality to utilize is lymphatic drainage massage.

Before beginning a massage, clients should be evaluated by a physician, since it is outside of a massage therapist’s scope of practice to diagnose a Baker’s cyst. This will rule out any possible contraindications. Once you have received the green light to proceed, remember to use caution when massaging this sensitive area around the cyst.

Be prepared when your clients approach you for relief of their seemingly innocuous “swollen knee.” Find out how massage therapy can relieve the swelling associated with Baker’s cysts.