A synovitis knee can lead to pain, swelling, and even limit your range of motion. The condition is characterized by swelling in the synovial membrane. It can accompany arthritis, but this is not always the case.

The symptoms can lead to serious discomfort, but it is important to know that there are ways to not only prevent knee synovitis but also to treat it effectively. We take a closer look at what the condition is, how it relates to arthritis, and what treatment options are available.

What is Synovitis of the Knee?

Synovitis is a term that refers to swelling that affects a specific membrane known as the synovial. This membrane is made up of connective tissue that helps to line your joints. The synovial membrane is found in joints like the knee, shoulder, and hips.

Synovitis knee means the synovial membrane at your knee has swollen up[1]. When this happens, you may experience additional symptoms in your knee, such as a warm feeling and pain.

Synovitis can only affect a synovial joint, which refers to the larger joints that are part of your body. The synovial membrane excretes a substance known as synovial fluid. This fluid helps to provide lubrication for the joints in the surrounding area.

What are the Causes of Knee Synovitis?

There are several potential causes behind knee synovitis. It is important to understand these causes, as it could help you develop a preventative plan. Furthermore, if you are diagnosed with Synovitis knee, then you will have a better understanding of the reason behind the diagnosis.

Some potential reasons why knee synovitis can develop include:

  • Overuse of your knee joint is one of the more common reasons for synovitis. This is usually the cause if you are an otherwise healthy person.
  • You can also develop inflammation in your synovial joint with certain types of arthritis. Arthritis is a condition that affects your joints and can sometimes cause your synovial membrane to become inflamed.

One thing to note is that not all arthritis conditions are notorious for contributing to synovitis knee. Osteoarthritis, for example, will often cause pain and stiffness but may not result in the swelling of the synovial membrane.

What are the Symptoms of Knee Synovitis?

Symptoms of Knee Synovitis

Inflammation and pain are the two most common symptoms that knee synovitis tends to cause. With this said, the inflammation is not always noticeable, especially when compared to the level of pain you experience.

There may be slight inflammation accompanied by severe levels of pain. In some people, the pain may come and go. This means the symptoms that you experience, pain, are short-lived but can come back after a while. The pain can be present in different areas of the body. In cases where you have synovitis knee due to overuse of the joint, then the pain will usually be localized to one specific area of your body – in this case, the knee.

If you have arthritis that contributes to knee synovitis, then there is a chance that you may experience additional symptoms. Sometimes, this condition also causes a warm feeling in the affected area of your knee.

Synovitis vs Arthritis: Is Synovitis the Same as Arthritis?

In short, no. Arthritis and knee synovitis are not the same things. There are similarities between the two – in particular, they both have been linked to inflammation of your joints.

Arthritis can affect different areas of the knee joints. If you have knee synovitis, however, then most of the inflammation you have will be present in the synovial membrane, also referred to as the synovium.

One thing to consider is that certain types of arthritis conditions can affect your synovium. Most arthritis conditions will only cause mild if any, synovial inflammation. With this said the autoimmune condition rheumatoid arthritis[2] has been shown to contribute more significantly to the development of synovitis.

Can Synovitis be Treated Without Surgery?

When you have knee synovitis, there are several treatments that your provider will need to consider. The right treatment depends on several factors, such as how severe the synovial inflammation is, what caused it, and your overall health.

Your provider may choose to obtain fluid samples from your knee joint and particularly the area where the synovial membrane is located. When these fluid samples are sent to the laboratory, the technicians can analyze them and determine what the root cause of the inflammation is. This can help to provide you with a more personalized treatment strategy.

Obtaining fluids from your joint is a good idea especially if you have signs of small joint effusion in the affected knee.

Depending on the findings of a physical exam and additional tests, the treatment options may include:

  • Resting your knee joint to give it time to heal. This may be helpful in milder cases of knee synovitis.
  • Sometimes your doctor may prefer you wear a splint or brace for a while. This can help to stabilize your knee while you are undergoing recovery from an injury or other cause related to your synovitis knee.
  • Ice and heat treatment options can also be useful when the condition is not too severe. Ice can help to numb the nerve endings; thus helping to reduce the amount of pain you experience. Hot therapy improves blood circulation to promote healing.

There are some cases where these non-surgical treatment options do not show improvements. In this situation, your doctor may prefer to use a steroid injection into the joint that is affected by knee synovitis. This can help to provide faster relief of the inflammation that is affecting the synovial membrane in the area.

How Can I Avoid Getting Knee Synovitis?

Getting Knee Synovitis

There are certain ways in which synovitis knee can be avoided effectively. It is important to get regular checkups at your doctor if you already have an arthritis condition. Even with osteoarthritis, for example, it’s still a good idea to have your doctor run some tests and do physical examinations regularly.

You should also focus on maintaining flexibility in your knee and regular exercise to build upon the strength of the muscles that surround the synovium and joints in your knees.

What Should be the Strategies or Tips for Preventing Knee Synovitis?

Stretches are a good strategy to help in the prevention of synovitis knee. You should aim to do this daily. When you stretch your knees every morning, you help to maintain their flexibility before you head off for work. There are also other exercises[3] that can be great for preventing this problem, such as:

  • Hamstring stretch
  • Half-squat
  • Leg stretch
  • One-leg dip

Wherever you use a single leg, make sure to alternate between both of your legs. This can help to ensure you create a balance in muscle strength and flexibility.

Apart from exercise, you can also turn to certain supplements and consider improving your diet. Both can have significant effects on your overall bone health. For example, make sure you get enough calcium, magnesium, and vitamin D in your diet. These are all important nutrients that contribute to the overall well-being of your bones, including density and strength.

Another preventative tip is not to wait when you have symptoms. If you feel pain in your knee, even if there is only mild swelling, consider making an appointment with your doctor. A physical exam can usually help to rule out problems like synovitis knee.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is walking good for synovitis in the knee?

Yes, walking is a great management strategy. A brisk walk helps to build up strength in muscles that surrounds your knee and the synovial membrane, providing more support for the area.

Knee synovitis in rheumatoid arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease where the body attacks healthy tissue. It has been found that knee synovitis is more common in Rheumatoid arthritis compared to other types of arthritis conditions.

Can physio help synovitis?

Physiotherapy may offer a helpful addition to other treatments used for synovitis. Electrotherapy, massage, heat, cold, and several other therapeutic techniques may be used to help you experience relief in the symptoms of synovitis.

Synovitis or joint inflammation?

Synovitis is a type of joint inflammation but is not the only cause of these symptoms. This is why it’s important to consult with your doctor if you have inflammation in your knee. A few tests can help you get a better view of why you have swelling in your knees.


Knee swelling can be uncomfortable and make it difficult to move around. There are several potential causes, including synovitis. There are several strategies that you can use to improve the symptoms and increase your range of motion, including medication and physiotherapy.

In a FlexoPlex review, you can also note that there are natural alternatives to pharmaceutical interventions that may help to relieve your symptoms without putting you at risk of unpleasant side effects.