Knee > Synovitis > Treatments

    R.I.C.E. (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation)

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A common treatment prescribed for synovitis is R.I.C.E., which stands for rest, ice, compression, and elevation:

   Rest - Your doctor will likely suggest that you take it easy for several days, so it may be wise to clear your schedule of any physical activities.

   Ice - Initially, your doctor may recommend applying ice packs to the knee for about 20 minutes every three or four hours. You will probably need to do this for two or three days or until the pain subsides.

   Compression - A knee sleeve will compress the knee and help keep the swelling down. Make sure to use a sleeve without a "donut," or hole, over the kneecap. The sleeve should be worn until the swelling goes away.

   Elevation - Elevating your knee above the level of your heart will help reduce swelling by dispersing excess fluid away from the injured area.

The swelling is usually due to an underlying condition such as rheumatoid arthritis, which can be assessed by an orthopedic surgeon or rheumatologist. For some people, synovitis is a lifelong problem that comes and goes, and requires R.I.C.E. treatment as symptoms occur.

Rehabilitation [top]

The most important component of rehabilitation for sufferers of synovitis is relative rest. This means modifying your workouts to avoid the activities that cause pain. For example, instead of riding a bike or running, you could swim or rollerblade instead. Or, you could reduce the intensity of your workout, by using less resistance when you ride, or by eliminating hills from a running workout. Your physician and physical therapist can help design a custom rehab program that will teach you strengthening exercises to stabilize your knee. Depending on how serious you are about the relative rest and physical therapy, you may be able to return to a normal level of activity in three to four weeks. However, the time it takes to return to activities is highly variable in individual patients based on your pain threshold and activity level. You may experience pain while engaged in physical activities, and it may set back your rehabilitation. The pain is usually felt during exercises, but can be even worse afterwards. If pain and swelling increase after rehab exercises, cut back on the intensity and duration of your workout until you find a comfortable level. Many people can return to activities between one and three months after beginning physical therapy.

Prevention [top]

The best way to prevent recurring synovitis is to properly treat the knee problem or disease that caused synovitis. You may be able to reduce your chances of recurring synovitis by avoiding a sudden increase in activities that require repetitive motion, such as cycling or using a stair-climbing machine. Easing into an exercise routine after synovitis can help reduce stress on the synovial membrane and help you avoid irritation. In the absence of other knee complications, the amount of caution you should use during activities to prevent synovitis from recurring depends on your age as follows:

   Children - Synovitis usually does not hinder joint function after an injury. Once synovitis heals, it rarely returns.

   Adults - Synovitis may signal that you have sustained some degree of cartilage damage. Becoming less involved in strenuous activities, like contact sports or long distance running, may help prevent future synovitis. But you do not need to avoid activities or be overly concerned with prevention unless the underlying cause of your synovitis was a severe disease or injury that warrants extra prevention measures.

   Seniors - Synovitis may be more problematic later in life, harming the function of your knee joint, and you should continue to visit your physician for check-ups after your knee heals. Because synovitis is a common companion of rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, you should strongly consider cutting back your activity level to avoid situations that could strain your knee joint.

Weight control is also important. One extra pound of body weight translates into three or four pounds of weight across your knee every time you take a step. Lightening the load on your knees helps them to function better. Your physician may prescribe a lightweight knee brace to wear during sports that require side-to-side or twisting motions. You should also consider wearing kneepads during activities like in-line skating that put you at risk for falling.

Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs
Anti-Inflammatory Medication (Steroids, Gold)
Activity Modification
R.I.C.E. (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation)
   Home Recovery
Intra-Articular Corticosteroid Injection

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