Synovitis is a medical condition characterized by the inflammation of the synovial membrane, which lines the joints possessing cavities, namely synovial joints. The condition is accompanied by the fluid collection in a synovial sac and is usually painful, especially when in motion.

The synovial fluid is a transparent, viscid fluid secreted by the synovial membrane and found in joint cavities, bursae and tendon sheaths. When analyzed, this synovial fluid can confirm or rule out various joint diseases such as traumatic arthritis, osteoarthritis and the like.

In fact, synovitis is one part of distinguishing rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis from other forms of arthritis.

Risk Factors

Synovitis is known to develop along with a series of joint diseases and other medical conditions. Here we list the main amongst them:

Rheumatoid arthritis

Juvenile arthritis


Psoriatic arthritis

Rheumatic fever





Symptoms of Synovitis

The first and most prominent symptom of synovitis is a warm, red and swollen joint. The chief signs and symptoms of presence of synovitis are:

The joint appears swollen and feels puffy or boggy to touch. This especially happens in the case of rheumatoid arthritis due to the mass of inflammatory cells.

The joint becomes warmer due to the increased blood flow caused by inflammation.

The enzymes released by the cells into the joint space lead to pain and irritation.

In cases where this process continues over years, the enzymes gradually digest the cartilage and bone of the joint. This further results in chronic pain and degenerative changes.

Diagnosis and Treatment

The main diagnostic tool that is used to detect the presence of synovitis is the Synovial Fluid Analysis. This test examines the lubricating fluid secreted by synovial membranes. A sample of the fluid is drawn for analysis and for culture if infection is suspected.

In some cases, a medication, normally in the form of a corticosteroid preparation can be injected into the joint space after the specimen has been withdrawn.

Anti-inflammatory drugs are the first form of treatment recommended for patients with synovitis. These include aspirin, ibuprofen and corticosteroids.

Further treatment plan is devised in accordance with the specific cause of synovitis. Treatment forms also depend on the particular patient’s response and tolerance level of any specific medication.

Pigmented villonodular synovitis (PVNS)

Pigmented villonodular synovitis (PVNS) is a rare joint disorder involving a noncancerous tumor that originates in the tissue lining the joints (synovial tissue). As the tumor grows, it damages the bone surrounding the joint and cause excess fluid in the joint, resulting in pain and swelling.

There are three main forms of PNVS, namely:

Pigmented villonodular tenosynovitis (PVTS)

Localized pedunculated villonodular synovitis (LPVS)

Diffuse pigmented villonodular synovitis