What Is Synovitis and Why Does It Happen?

Many people have joint issues across the world for different reasons. The inflammation of the synovium called synovitis is thus one of such reasons for temporary joint disability.

This article talks about synovitis in detail. Everything you need to know about this condition is given below.

What is Synovium?

The synovium is a soft layer of connective tissue that lines the inner part of the joint capsule. It is an integral part of a joint which along with synovial fluid lubricates the joint.

Not all joints in the human body contain this component. Thus, this membrane is only found in synovial joints like the knee or the hip.

The function of a Synovial Membrane

The main function of this membrane inside a synovial joint is to provide lubrication.

The synovial membrane secretes a fluid that is called synovial fluid. This fluid fills the joint cavity to lubricate articulating bone ends. The presence of this fluid reduces the degenerative effects of friction and thus minimises regular wear and tear.

Without the presence of this fluid environment, the joint bones would rub against each other sustaining maximum friction-generated degeneration like articular cartilage damage, ligament injuries, tendon injuries, abrasion etc.

In addition to the secretion of the lubricating fluid, the synovial membrane also supplies essential nutrients and oxygen to the avascular cartilage.

Avascular cartilage refers to a soft-tissue protective structure (or cartilage) within a synovial joint that doesn’t contain blood vessels.

Thus, these parts have their nutritional and oxygen requirements met by the synovial fluid perpetually found in the joint cavity.

Synovitis: an inflammatory joint condition

The human body contains various joints for types of movement. A joint is composed of soft and hard parts like ligaments, tendons, bursae, bones, cartilage, and synovium.

When the synovium or synovial membrane gets injured for any reason, it becomes inflamed with pain, swelling, tenderness, and reduced mobility of the concerned joint.

This inflammation of the synovium is called synovitis.

Symptoms of Synovitis

The following are the post-synovitis consequences around the affected joint.

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Warmth and Redness
  • Stiffness issues
  • Reduced mobility

For the exact diagnosis of a joint condition, you must always consult with an experienced orthopedic doctor.

Causes of Synovitis

Synovitis can be caused because of multiple reasons.

Infection is a diseased condition that occurs because of the development of invasive germs anywhere within the body. This can also happen within joints as well giving rise to the condition of synovitis. Septic Arthritis is one such synovial joint infection.

Furthermore, autoimmune conditions like rheumatoid arthritis can also give rise to the inflammation of the synovium.

If you have fallen somewhere hard and the synovium has been injured, it will lead to inflammation. Thus, external traumas can cause this condition.

Osteoarthritis refers to the condition of joint degeneration over time. A joint is a junction where two bone ends meet. Each such bone end contains a continuous layer of soft and fibrous tissue; this layer of tissue is called cartilage.

When cartilage wears down, joint bones rub against each other causing damage to the surrounding structures as well like ligaments, tendons and synovial membrane.

Thus, advanced stages of osteoarthritis also cause synovitis along with other issues.

Next, if you are a child and suffering from JIA (or Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis), it might be the cause of synovitis in your synovial joints like the knee and the hip.

Sometimes, a physical disease can also leave you with inflamed synovial membranes, for example, chikungunya; this disease is known to cause polyarthritis particularly—a condition where more than two joints have arthritic symptoms.

Any of these causes can initiate the inflammation of the synovial membrane in a synovial joint.

Is Synovitis a soft injury?


The synovium is a soft connective tissue in a joint. Thus, any injury caused to this membrane is a soft injury and so is synovitis.

Diagnostic options

This condition can be examined with the help of clinical evaluation, imaging exams, laboratory tests and biopsy.

Medical History Evaluation: A doctor will start the diagnostic procedure for synovitis with a thorough analysis of your medical history. You might be asked about any health-related conditions you might already have like an autoimmune disorder or whatever.

Physical Examination: It might also involve a physical examination of the inflamed part of the concerned synovial joint.

Imaging Exams: If a doctor needs to investigate the joint further, they can instruct you to have an imaging examination done. This might include an ultrasound, MRI or X-ray.

Blood Tests: Sometimes, synovitis could be a symptom of some underlying disorder like rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis or lupus. Thus, the diagnosis might also include a blood test.

Arthrocentesis: It is a procedure to examine synovial fluid so as to detect the presence of certain conditions and disorders. Firstly, the doctor will take the synovial fluid out of the concerned joint having synovitis. And, then secondly, the taken fluid will be examined.

Synovial Biopsy: However, this is not a usual diagnostic test in the case of synovitis, it can be used to find the presence of certain diseases causing synovitis.

Treatments of synovitis

The following are the treatment options for the inflammation of the synovium.

First of all, you will be recommended to take adequate rest along with pain medicines and, perhaps, corticosteroid injections to deal with the problem of inflammation.

A specialist might also use braces or splints to offer immobilisation and create a healing atmosphere for the inflamed joint so that the soft injury of the synovial membrane can heal over time without any aggravation because of harmful movements.

Physical therapy can also be introduced to deal with synovitis. This includes the use of ice compressions to combat swelling, heat compressions to reduce stiffness of the joint, massage and special exercises.

Finally, suppose either your knee or hip has synovitis because of an advanced stage of osteoarthritis. In that case, a replacement is the only solution for lasting relief. If you need to talk to the best joint replacement surgeon, refer to the following link: the best surgeon for knee replacement surgery.

Recovery Process

Mainly, it would depend on a lot of factors like the cause of synovitis, the type of synovial joint having synovitis, detection of underlying disorders, etc.

However, if it is a simple inflammation of the synovium because of an external trauma like a fall or road accident that caused an injury to the membrane, it will not take long to recover.

You will be up and running within a few days or weeks with adequate rest and anti-inflammatory medications.

For a more personalised recovery timeline, ask your doctor about the same in particular.


Synovitis is usually not a very big health concern. It will be cured within weeks with proper medical care. You just need to connect with an experienced orthopedic doctor.


However, synovitis might also be a symptom of the extreme degenerative changes in your weight-bearing synovial joints like the knee or the hip. If this is the case, a joint replacement is the final option.

Make sure you get your joint replaced by an experienced surgeon.

To know about the cost of a total knee replacement procedure, visit the following link: knee replacement surgery cost in Delhi.

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