Definition of Synovitis

Inflammation of the synovial membrane that lines the joint capsule of joints such as the hip and knee. Synovitis is common in rheumatoid arthritis, gout, systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), and infection.

Generally there is pain, often severe, and swelling due to fluid accumulation. The skin over the joint is often hot to the touch and red.

The doctor may aspirate (withdraw with a fine needle) some fluid from within the joint to rule out infection.

Treatment Options

Most synovitis improves with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS); severe or recurrent synovitis may require injected corticosteroid medications along with a local anesthetic to relieve pain and reduce inflammation.

The extent of improvement depends on the underlying cause. Unfortunately synovitis often becomes a chronic presence with rheumatoid arthritis. Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDS), which slow the progression of rheumatoid arthritis, may lessen the symptoms of synovitis as well. When bacteria are present in the synovial fluid, treatment requires antibiotic medications.

See also BURSITISTENDONITIS.

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