Joints are the structures that connect two or more bones in your body. They’re found in your feet, ankles, knees, hips, arms, and many other parts of your body.
Joints are surrounded and cushioned by soft tissues. Swelling occurs when fluid accumulates in these tissues. Pain, stiffness, or both may accompany joint swelling. You may also notice that the affected joint appears bigger than normal or irregularly shaped.
Joint swelling can be a symptom of a chronic condition, such as arthritis, or an injury that requires medical attention, such as a dislocation.
One of the most frequent causes of joint swelling is arthritis. Some of the most common types of arthritis include:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Psoriatic arthritis
- Septic arthritis
- Joint swelling can also result from other chronic conditions, illnesses, or acute injuries.
Symptoms of swollen joints include:
- Deep, aching pain
- May feel warm to touch
- Inability to move them normally
Your doctor will diagnose by asking you questions about your medical history and symptoms. Then he will perform the physical examination followed by the further tests which may include:
Imaging tests, such as X-rays
Joint aspiration, a test in which your doctor will used a needle to draw a small sample of fluid from the affected joint to be analysed in a laboratory.
Your doctor’s recommended treatment plan will depend on the underlying cause of your symptoms.
Not all swollen joints are treated the same way. Treatment for swollen joints depends on the problem or diagnosis.
For instance, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are used in treating swollen joints with OA. NSAIDs may also be used to treat swollen joints from an injury. Along with NSAIDs, applications of moist heat or ice can help ease swollen joints and pain.
Injecting an anti-inflammatory drug such as a steroid into a joint is another treatment method.
Acute gout can be treated with a medicine called colchicine. This prescription drug eases swollen joints, pain, and inflammation caused by the crystal deposits in the joint.
Swollen joints and pain from infectious arthritis are treated with antibiotics to stop the infection. Sometimes, surgery may be needed to allow drainage of infected material.