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What is knee synovitis?

The knee is what is known as a synovial joint. The knee joint is surrounded by a joint capsule. Thich is a balloon-like structure that encases the entire joint. The capsule is composed of a tougher, outer fibrous layer and an inner, softer layer called the synovium. The synovium is a membranous lining of the joint that contains a viscous fluid (synovial fluid), that helps to lubricate the joint lending to smooth motion. The synovial fluid also plays a role in nourishment of any joint that it surrounds. The suffix ‘itis’ means ‘inflammation of’. Synovitis is a chronic knee pain condition that involves inflammation or irritation within the synovium. Synovitis is swelling of this internal knee structure to any degree caused by the joint overproducing synovial fluid. Usually the knees will puff up with swelling and cause joint pain, decreased motion, lack of smooth motion, warmth, or may show a reddish or pink hue. Other joints within the body can also suffer from synovitis.

What causes synovitis of the knee?

The underlying synovitis knee causes can be very benign or more severe. Synovitis is ultimately caused by inflammation, and the root cause of this inflammation needs to be determined. Inflammation in the knee or any other synovial joint is due to an overproduction of synovial fluid or bleeding in the joint in reaction to a trauma of the joint. Repeated, untreated, internal joint bleeding of the knee has the possibility of leaking into the synovium. When internal bleeding is present in the joint, the synovial membrane thickens and will grow additional blood vessels in the area, which may lead to even more bleeding in the joint if left untreated. This increase in blood vessels around the injured joint is one reason why the knee will begin to swell with inflammation. Causes of joint bleeds and inflammation in the knee include:

  • Overuse of the knee
  • Untreated arthritis, particularly gout or Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Repeated injuries to the knee joint, tissue or muscles causing the joint to bleed internally

Inflammation is a common symptom of other chronic knee pain conditions. Patients may suffer from synovitis and another knee condition at the same time. Prompt, proper diagnosis is crucial in determining the accurate cause of your knee pain in order to determine the best treatment strategy.

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 How do I know if I have Synovitis?

Any amount of swelling in the knee may be a sign of synovitis. After an injury to the knee, it may begin to swell and is likely to be bleeding internally. This bleeding causes edema in the knee and may coincide with other knee synovitis symptoms. You may be suffering from a knee synovitis diagnosis if you are experiencing any of the following:

  • Swollen joints for hours or days
  • Joints that turn red or pink
  • Knees that feeling hot or warm to the touch
  • Significant joint pain.
  • A knee or knees that are very stiff and make moving at all quite difficult
  • A feeling of instability in the knee joint
If You Are Experiencing Symptoms, Schedule an Appointment Dr. Burke Orthopedics Immediately.
Close up older woman touching knee with hands, feeling pain

How do I prevent knee synovitis?

The main way to prevent knee synovitis symptoms is to protect your knees from injury. However, in the case of an autoimmune condition that causes frequent swelling of the knee, injury prevention will only do so much. But, paying attention to the health of your knees and minding injury prevention techniques will still go a long way in decreasing pain and other symptoms. Even with the most preparation and caution, injuries happen. In case of an injury causing knee synovitis or internal bleeding in the joint, take care of your knee before the pain and condition turns chronic. Patients can help prevent a chronic knee synovitis diagnosis with:

  • Stretching the knee every day, maintain flexibility of the surrounding structures
  • Exercising the knee and building muscle tissue, aerobic exercise in particular will help to get the blood moving and flush out excess fluid
  • Strength training will improve the strength of not only the surrounding muscles of the knee, but also the surrounding soft tissues
  • Seeking prompt medical attention as soon as you suspect a bleed in the joint, whether it be from injury or a compromised immune system
  • Losing weight so as to decrease pressure on the knees

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Disclaimer: Please note all medical information contained within this website should never be interpreted as a diagnosis or recommendation of treatment. If a diagnosis is needed, contact Dr. Burke Orthopedics for a personalized consultation. Information shared in testimonials and reviews are specific to that particular patient and may not be representative of the experience of others.