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What is Shoulder Synovitis?

Shoulder synovitis is an inflammatory condition of the synovium or synovial membrane, the inner layer of the capsule in the shoulder joint. The joint capsule is located in the upper & lower limb joints providing lubrication in order to avoid friction during movements. It is made up of two layers, an outer tough fibrous layer called the fibrous stratum and an inner soft layer called the synovial stratum. A viscous liquid is filled in between these two layers known as synovial fluid.

Types of Shoulder Synovitis 

  • ACUTE SYNOVITIS: This condition is characterized by sudden onset of swelling, color changes in the affected joint, severe pain, and restricted shoulder movements.
  • CHRONIC SYNOVITIS: This condition is characterized by symptoms persisting for a long time causing discomfort in the daily routine and also fatigue.
  • REACTIVE SYNOVITIS: The condition occurs as a reaction to allergens or by autoimmune or immunodeficiency disorders.
  • POST TRAUMATIC SYNOVITIS: The condition occurs in response to injury or damage to the joint by trauma.

Causes of Shoulder Synovitis

Some of the causes of shoulder synovitis include:

  • Overuse or repetitive overhead activity 
  • Heavy lifting 
  • Direct injury 
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis, gout
  • Systemic Lupus Erythematosus(SLE)
  • Tuberculosis

Symptoms of Shoulder Synovitis

Some of the symptoms of shoulder synovitis include:

  • Swelling in the shoulder joint
  • Acute or chronic pain
  • Restricted shoulder movements
  • Tenderness
  • Thickening of the surrounding tissues
  • Increased fluid buildup

Diagnosis of Shoulder Synovitis

On examination, there will be tenderness, warmth to the touch, and a spongy appearance due to swelling or thickening. To check for deeper injuries and severe cases, an ultrasound or MRI scan of the shoulder joint will be ordered to evaluate for any damage to the joint & surrounding tissues.

Treatment of Shoulder Synovitis 

Conservative/Nonsurgical treatments include:

  • OTC drugs such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs(NSAIDS), DMARDs (disease-modifying ant rheumatic drugs) and also steroid Injections
  • Apply ice packs
  • Hot compression
  • Rest to the joint by using a brace or splint

Surgical Treatment: If the symptoms aren’t relieved even after conservative management, the affected tissues or synovium portion will be removed by a procedure called a synovectomy, which involves removal of all or a part of the synovium.

Shoulder Synovitis Prevention

Shoulder synovitis can be prevented by:

  • Regular Exercise
  • Balanced weight lifting
  • Avoid excessive movements of the shoulder

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