What is Synovitis?

Photos courtesy of Creaky Joints and The American College of Rheumatology, respectfully.


Synovitis is inflammation of the synovium. This may have you asking, “so what is the synovium?” I’m glad you asked! The synovium is the lining that protects your joints and it’s very important for the function of each of our joints. It produces a very thin layer of fluid to lubricate the joint. In fact, this space can be as thin as a strand of hair!

How does Synovitis feel?


In a few words, painful to the touch. There may be swelling, pain and warmth in addition to pain. It’s not common with osteoarthritis but it does happen. It’s more commonly found with inflammatory arthritis. 


How is Synovitis diagnosed?


Oftentimes, individuals with Synovitis will be diagnosed by a physical exam from a medical professional, ultrasound or MRI. It can also be diagnosed by a medical professional if you have history of trauma to the joint. 


How do you treat Synovitis?


Synovitis can be treated by NSAIDs, corticosteroids (oral or injected), DMARDs or by apriration (sucking out the fluid). Sometimes, a procedure called a synovectomy is needed. 


If you have recurrent synovitis, talk with your rheumatologist about it as soon as possible! It can be a sign of trauma, words ending damage to the joint, worsening RA disease or ineffective medical treatment and should be evaluated immediately by your medical professional.

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