Skip to content

    Arthritis Health Center

    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    Swollen Joints (Joint Effusion)

    What Are the Symptoms of Swollen Joints?

    Symptoms of swollen joints include:

    • Deep, aching pain
    • May feel warm to touch
    • Stiffness
    • Inability to move them normally

     

    How Are Swollen Joints Treated?

    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.

    Steroid medications taken orally for a short period of time may be effective in reducing painful, swollen joints. Steroids block the production of inflammatory chemicals in the body.

    Injecting an anti-inflammatory drug such as a steroid into a joint is another treatment method. The injection goes directly into the swollen joint -- the source of inflammation and pain. Injections usually give the patient temporary but rapid relief of joint swelling and pain. Fluid removal is part of this procedure in most circumstances.

    For inflammatory types of arthritis such as RA, psoriatic arthritis, and AS, treatment may include NSAIDs, steroid medications, and the newer types of drugs that affect the immune system. These include the disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) and biologic agents such as tumor necrosis factor inhibitors.

    Acute gout is treated with a medicine called colchicine. This prescription drug eases swollen joints, pain, and inflammation caused by the crystal deposits in the joint. NSAIDs may also help decrease pain and swelling. Sometimes, stronger painkillers are needed.

    Swollen joints and pain from infectious arthritis are treated with antibiotics to stop the infection. Sometimes, surgery may be needed.

    WebMD Medical Reference

    Reviewed by David Zelman, MD on March 14, 2016
    1 | 2

    Today on WebMD

    Mature woman exercise at home
    Hint: Warming up first is crucial.
    feet with gout
    Quiz yourself.
     
    woman in pain
    One idea? Eat fish to curb inflammation.
    senior couple walking
    Can you keep your RA from progressing?
     
    xray of knees with osteoarthritis
    Slideshow
    close up of man wearing dress shoes
    Slideshow
     
    feet with gout
    Quiz
    close up of red shoe in shoebox
    Slideshow
     
    salad
    Video
    two male hands
    ARTICLE
     
    Woman massaging her neck
    Quiz
    5 Lupus Risk Factors
    Article