What you need to know about joint swelling

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Joint swelling, also known as joint effusion, is the expansion of one or more of your joints as a result of a rise in the amount of fluid. Injuries, such as an underlying condition or illness such as arthritis or an infection, or fractured bone may result in joint swelling. Blood, pus, or a clear discharge are all possible fluids.  

Anyone might experience joint swelling, although older people have more chances of developing joint swelling due to the increased likelihood of general deterioration of the ligaments and tendons around the joints and arthritis .

Additionally, people who are overweight tend to use their joints in strenuous activities, repetitively or have previously experienced a joint injury are more likely to develop joint swelling. 

Symptoms of joint swelling   

Increased fluid collection within and around joints causes the surrounding areas to puff up and appear larger than normal, which is a sign of swollen joints. The additional fluid might also cause the skin around your joints to feel constrictive, which can limit your range of motion. Swollen joints can result in additional symptoms in addition to these physical changes. 

  • Pain 
  • Skin redness 
  • Fever 
  • Decreased range of motion 
  • Tenderness to the touch 
  • Skin redness 
  • Warm or hot feeling around the joint 
  • Causes of Joint swelling   
  • Injuries  
  • Swelling in and around your joints can result from trauma to your joints, bones, cartilage, tendons, ligaments, and muscles, such as a ligament or meniscus rupture.  


Septic arthritis is an infection that typically affects the knees and hips and results in inflammation, discomfort, fever, and chills in the affected joints. 


Although both gout and pseudogout are inflammatory disorders that frequently result in painful, swollen joints, their underlying causes vary. When uric acid tends to build up as crystals in the joint, gout begins to form. 

Calcium pyrophosphate deposition disease (CPPD), which is brought on by calcium crystals in the joints, is known as “pseudogout” during its acute bouts.  


One of the most prevalent kind of arthritis is osteoarthritis. The neck, back, fingers and hands, knees, and hips are the joints most frequently affected by osteoarthritis. It results from the cartilage in joints gradually deteriorating naturally over time. 

The bones rub against one another as the cartilage protecting your joint deteriorates. You might experience joint discomfort, stiffness and swelling from this. 

Rheumatoid arthritis  

An autoimmune disorder called rheumatoid arthritis (RA) makes the body attack its own joints, resulting in joint inflammation and painful, flaming, and swollen joints. The same joints on both sides of the body are typically affected by rheumatoid arthritis, most frequently the hands, wrists, and knees.  

When you have Rheumatoid arthritis, the membranes that line your joints are attacked by your immune system, which results in fluid retention and swelling of the joints. It can harm the tendons, ligaments, and cartilage in your joints. 

Ankylosing spondylitis  

Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is an autoimmune disorder that results in inflammation of the spine and is frequently accompanied by fatigue and low back pain. Knee, hip, and shoulder discomfort and swelling can also be brought on by ankylosing spondylitis. 

Septic arthritis  

A joint infection is a septic arthritis. Parasites, fungi, viruses, or bacteria may bring on the infection. Compared to joint infections brought on by bacteria or viruses, fungi and parasites are significantly less frequent. Septic arthritis often impacts just one big joint, such as the knee or hip, but it is possible for multiple joints to become contaminated. 

Psoriatic arthritis  

Psoriasis is an inflammatory skin illness that results in red, dry, itchy skin patches. Psoriatic arthritis (PsA) is an autoimmune condition that frequently arises as a consequence of psoriasis. Most frequently, psoriatic arthritis affects the fingers and toes, giving them a bloated, sausage-like appearance.

As a result, the joints become inflamed and painful and stiff. It is an autoimmune disorder in which your skin and joints’ healthy tissue is attacked by your immune system. Inflammation is the outcome and inflamed joints are painful and inflexible. 

Complications and Risk Factors of Joint swelling   

Overuse or sprains of the joint, as well as other minor injuries, may result in joint swelling. Joint swelling, however, it can also be a symptom of more severe illnesses or injuries, such as arthritis or a fractured bone. 

Failure to seek treatment can lead to major consequences and irreversible damage since joint swelling can be caused by serious illnesses or injuries. It is essential that you adhere to the treatment strategy that you and your healthcare provider create for you once the underlying cause has been identified in order to lower the risk of potential complications, such as 

  • Disability 
  • Loss of strength 
  • Spread of infection 
  • Permanent or chronic pain 
  • Joint deformity and destruction 
  • Sepsis (life-threatening bacterial blood infection) 
  • Reduced mobility (range of motion of the joint) 
  • Diagnosis of Joint swelling   

A physical examination is used to examine the appearance and mobility of your joints in order to diagnose swollen joints. Your bones and the structures in and around your joints can be examined using imaging tests like X-rays, ultrasound, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to check for damage from an injury or arthritis.  

If your doctor believes that gout or an autoimmune disorder is the source of your swollen joints, blood tests may also be done. 

A joint aspiration, also known as arthrocentesis, is a technique that your healthcare practitioner may carry out to draw fluid from your swollen joint. This treatment aids in determining the origin of swelling and aids in its reduction. Additionally, a joint aspiration offers a fluid sample that can be examined for indicators of an infection, gout, or autoimmune diseases. 

Treatment of Joint swelling   

Depending on the underlying cause, different treatments will be given for swollen joints. Swelling can be reduced by applying ice and elevating the injured region. 

 If you have an injury, it will take some time for your body to fully recover and the swelling to go down. 

Depending on the degree of your injuries, the time will change. Avoid sitting or standing for longer periods of time if you have any lower body joints, such as the ones in your feet, ankles, or knees, injured. 

You can prevent fluid from building up in your feet and lower legs by taking breaks to walk and move your joints. 

Home remedies for joint effusion include:

  • Joint effusion and discomfort can be relieved by heat, especially moist heat. Try applying heat if you have arthritis or a swollen joint from an injury. 
  • Swollen joints respond favourably to ice. If you have arthritis or a wound, give it a try. 
  • Preserving a healthy weight to lessen joint stress. 
  • NSAIDs, or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, include ibuprofen and naproxen. NSAIDs aid in the treatment of swollen joints in persons with arthritis or injuries. 
  • Resting your joint effusion could aid in its recovery. Use a mobility aid like a cane and try lifting your joint to take some of the weight off of it. 

When to see a doctor  

You should consider scheduling a visit with your healthcare provider if you experience a sudden onset of pain and swelling within a joint to check for signs of injury or infection. You should also see your healthcare provider if you have been experiencing the following symptoms:

  • A torn ligament or shattered bone
  • Fever and a joint effusion
  • A joint that you can’t move
  • The inability to apply pressure on your joint
  • Loss of sensation in a joint

Swelling within your joints for several weeks or months to determine the underlying cause and receive appropriate treatment. If you have swollen joints that become red, hot, and very painful, seek immediate medical attention. 

These are signs that you may have a serious infection or flare-up of an autoimmune attack.  


Your swollen joint could be a symptom of arthritis, an infection, or another ailment. Looking at the swollen skin can be unsettling, especially if you don’t know what caused it. Take charge of your health by attempting the at-home remedies and asking your doctor for assistance if you experience other symptoms in addition to joint effusion. 


1. Can arthritis cause swollen joints?  

Due to the destruction of cartilage, arthritis can lead to joint inflammation and inflamed joints. When the body mounts an autoimmune defence against its own joints, resulting in joint pain, inflammation, and swelling, autoimmune forms of arthritis can also result in swollen joints. 

2. How can I get rid of swollen joints?  

Applying ice, resting painful joints from aggravating motions, and speaking with your healthcare physician about various drug options that can treat the underlying cause can all help manage swollen joints. 


The Information including but not limited to text, graphics, images and other material contained on this blog are intended for education and awareness only. No material on this blog is intended to be a substitute for professional medical help including diagnosis or treatment. It is always advisable to consult medical professional before relying on the content. Neither the Author nor Star Health and Allied Insurance Co. Ltd accepts any responsibility for any potential risk to any visitor/reader.

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