Synovial inflammation, also known as synovitis, can be treated in a number of ways, depending on the cause and severity of the condition, and the patient’s personal preferences. Common treatments for acute or mild to moderate inflammation of the joint lining called the synovium include the use of heat or cold therapy, NSAIDs and cortisone injections to control inflammation, as well as rest or splinting to decrease further aggravation of the condition and medication for pain. After the inflammation subsides, physical therapy may also be needed. In severe, persistent cases where the synovium is being destroyed, surgery may be necessary to remove it. Patients may also prefer using natural, alternative treatments to avoid long-term use of drugs.
Treatment of synovial inflammation often involves a combination of medication and rest for the affected joint. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs, may be used to reduce the inflammation, or an injection of corticosteroids directly into the joint may be necessary. Rest is also important to prevent further irritation of the joint. In some cases, a splint may be used for further stability and to limit the amount of movement the patient can engage in. The application of heat or ice can also sometimes help.
For acute cases of synovial inflammation caused by infection, injury, or an allergic reaction, exercise may be part of recovery. Any lost flexibility or strength in and around the affected joint may need to be recovered. A physical therapist may recommend certain exercises once the inflammation and pain subsides to accomplish this.
Surgery is sometimes needed when synovial inflammation is ongoing and is causing permanent damage to the joint. This is particularly common with chronic conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis. A procedure called a synovectomy may be performed to remove the affected synovium, or lasers or chemical ablation may be used to destroy it.
There are several alternative treatment options available for synovial inflammation that patients may wish to try if they prefer a more natural approach. Some people have found relief using acupuncture. Certain herbs with anti-inflammatory properties such as turmeric, Asian white birch, and Chinese peony may be helpful. There are also a number of homeopathic remedies including bryonia, pulsatilla, and ledum that may be used for different types of synovitis. Patients interested in these treatments may want to speak to their doctor first to determine if there are any risks or other considerations.