Hydrarthrosis: Definition, Symptoms, Treatment, and Prevention
Hydrarthrosis is a pathological accumulation of fluid in the cavity of the mobile joints. Knee hydrarthrosis is one of the best known. It is manifested by swelling and pain in the knee .
What is hydrarthrosis?
The hydrarthrosis corresponds to an articular effusion, which is to say to a pathological accumulation of synovial liquid in the articular cavity . This viscous joint fluid is secreted by the synovial membrane lining the inside of the moving joints. It helps lubricate joint surfaces, reduce friction between bones, cushion shocks, and feed cartilage.
Hydroarthrosis can affect all moving joints. It’s more often found in the superficial joints, especially in the knee, elbow, fingers, wrists, and feet.
Causes of hydrarthrosis
Hydarthrosis has a mechanical origin. Its causes can be:
- an increase in osteoarthritis, especially in the knee (knee osteoarthritis); 
- fibrocartilaginous pathology such as degenerative meniscal injury;
- osteochondritis, or osteochondrosis, which is an abnormality in the growth of bone and cartilage;
- traumatic injury;
- rare arthropathy such as chondromatosis or nerve arthropathy.
Diagnosis of hydrarthrosis
The diagnosis of hydrarthrosis begins with a clinical examination. This allows in particular to inspect the painful joint and to see if certain signs of a synovial effusion are present.
Other complementary examinations may be performed. These include:
- a puncture at the level of the joint followed by biological examinations to analyze the articular fluid;
- medical imaging examinations such as X-rays or MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging).
Patients with any of the conditions listed above are more likely to develop inflammation.
The symptoms of hydrarthrosis
The aspect of the effusion
The appearance of mechanical joint effusion differs from that of inflammatory origin. It has a light yellow color, translucent and viscous appearance and with a composition poor in cells.
The effusion also reflected by the appearance of swelling in the affected joint. This global swelling tends to remove the anatomical reliefs of the joint.
Hydarthrosis causes mechanical pain. This worsens with activity and during the decline of this activity. On the other hand, it improves at rest and does not present any lasting morning stiffness or nocturnal awakenings, with a few exceptions.
The treatments of the hydrarthrosis
The treatment of inflammation is initially based on the removal of accumulated articular fluid. This evacuation performed through an articular puncture. It relieves pain by reducing intra-articular pressure if it exists.
In parallel, the management of the hydrarthrosis will also rest on the treatment of the underlying cause. It could be for example:
- drug treatment based on analgesics;
- infiltration of corticosteroids;
- an appliance port to support joint function;
- surgical intervention with prosthesis placement;
To prevent the occurrence of hydrarthrosis and associated pathologies, we recommend you:
- Have a healthy and balanced diet;
- Practice physical activity regularly;
- Improve ergonomics on your workstation to limit the pressure on the joints.