Know How to Treat Joint Inflammation

Medically Reviewed by Dr. Aman Priya Khanna
Written by Rajath R Prabhu, last updated on 15 July 2022| min read
Know How to Treat Joint Inflammation

Quick Summary

  • Joint inflammation is swelling and pain in joints.
  • It can affect one particular joint or multiple joints throughout the body.
  • It is usually a result of an injury, infection, or irritant.

Joint inflammation refers to swelling and pain in joints. This condition can affect one particular joint or multiple joints throughout the body, depending on the cause of inflammation. Joints refer to the body parts where two or more bones meet to allow movement. Joint inflammation is usually a result of an injury, infection, or irritant.

The blood vessels at the inflamed joint dilate, allowing more blood to reach it. Due to this, white blood cells (WBCs) rush to the inflamed site as the body's immune response. The WBCs try to fight off the infection or irritant, causing the affected area to swell up. To sum it up, inflammation is basically a sign that the body is battling with dangerous invaders. However, chronic inflammation that stays for a long time  can permanently damage the joints. 


Various Causes of Joint Inflammation


When injured, only the specific joint that has been affected experiences inflammation. When a joint is wounded, the body's immune system delivers nutrients and white blood cells to fight off the effects of the injury and quicken the healing process. This causes swelling and inflammation at the site. If the injury is not severe, the swelling and inflammation resolves on its own. But a severe injury can heighten the extent of inflammation, causing excessive swelling and pain. Some injuries that can cause joint inflammation include torn tendons, bone or joint fractures, dislocation of bone or joint, and torn ligaments. 

In such cases, a person should check with a specialist. 

Inflammatory Arthritis

The primary cause of joint inflammation is arthritis. Arthritis is a condition that deteriorates joint health. It is a group of conditions that start at one joint but may affect multiple joints in the long run. Inflammation linked to arthritis can result in:

  1. Systemic sclerosis
  2. Gouty arthritis
  3. Rheumatoid arthritis
  4. Systemic lupus erythematosus

Most of the time, inflammatory arthritis is the result of autoimmune diseases, which means that it occurs when the body's immune system mistakenly attacks the healthy tissues. This type of arthritis is chronic and only gets better with proper treatment. If left untreated, there is a risk of permanent damage to the joints or the bones.

Ankylosing Spondylitis 

It is an inflammatory disease that can cause bones in the vertebrae (spine) to fuse. Ankylosing Spondylitis usually affects the bones in the spine and large joints.

Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (lupus)

This is an autoimmune disorder in which the immune system of the body mistakenly attacks its healthy tissues to prevent infection. It also leads to joint inflammation.


Hypothyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid gland in the body does not produce enough thyroid hormone. Due to this condition, some people may suffer from joint pain, swelling, joint inflammation because of the fluid build up in the space around the joints. The fluid build up is the result of slowed metabolism which is affected by thyroid hormone.


Sarcoidosis is an inflammatory disease that is caused due to the growth of tiny groups of inflammatory cells in any part of the body. If this condition extends to the musculoskeletal system of the body, it can lead to joint pain, swelling, and joint inflammation.

Rheumatic Fever

If strep throat and scarlet fever are not treated properly, they result in rheumatic fever. This fever primarily affects the joints, skin, heart, and blood vessels and can also cause joint inflammation.


Tendinitis is an inflammatory condition of the tendons in the body. A tendon is a connective tissue that connects the bone to a muscle. 


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Treatment for Joint Inflammation

The treatment for joint inflammation depends on the cause. Minor injuries that cause inflammation may not require any treatment except some painkillers. The injury will heal with time and proper rest, and the inflammation will go away. However, serious injuries require proper treatment and even surgery. If the inflammation is caused due to an infection, then the doctors may also suggest antibiotics. Another treatment for joint inflammation is joint aspiration.

Joint Aspiration

Joint aspiration refers to the process of removing fluid from the space around the joint. It can be used both for diagnostic as well as therapeutic purposes. This procedure is performed with the help of a syringe and needle. Joint aspiration helps in relieving symptoms such as swelling.

What Drugs Are Used to Treat Inflammatory Diseases?

These are the medications that a healthcare provider might suggest to avoid complications related to joint inflammation:

  1. Narcotic pain relievers
  2. Anti-inflammatory pain relievers such as naproxen, ibuprofen, aspirin, etc.
  3. Corticosteroids such as prednisone

Before getting a prescription, a person must always let the doctor know about their medical history, any medications they are taking presently, any chronic health concerns, etc. This way, the doctor will only suggest medications that do not harm a person's health or cause any side effects.

If the joint inflammation is the result of inflammatory arthritis, then the doctor will prescribe arthritis medications such as metformin. 

Other Methods of Treatment

  1. Dietary Changes: Certain herbal supplements, food items, and dietary changes can also relieve joint inflammation. Even though there is no conclusive evidence that diet has any major role in treating joint inflammation, some food items have been found to eradicate or worsen the effects of the condition.
  2. Foods to Eat
    1. Fish oils 
    2. Omega 3 fatty acid supplements 
  3. Foods to Avoid
    1. Food items rich in purines, such as shellfish and red meats
    2. Foods that contain high levels of uric acid such as alcohol (especially beer), soft drinks, etc. 
    3. Items with gluten, such as barley, rye, wheat, etc.

Physical Therapy

If joint inflammation has caused restricted movement in the body, physical therapy can be adapted to regain functioning and prevent damage to the surrounding muscles. This includes acupuncture, chiropractic care, and massage. These treatments will not work on their own unless accompanied by medications. 

Home Remedies for Joint Inflammation

Besides medical supervision, some remedies also provide relief from joint inflammation temporarily. 

  1. RICE Method
    1. Rest Ice Compression Elevation, aka RICE, can help provide relief from pain and inflammation in the early days of an injury. Rest is very important. Try not to move the affected joint. If you put pressure or weight on the joint, it can increase inflammation. Applying an ice pack can also reduce swelling. It makes the affected area numb, so the pain temporarily goes away. Keep the affected area as elevated as possible. If you have an injury on your feet, try to keep them up by placing a cushion or pillow under them.
    2. Wrapping the joint with a bandage also helps. It compresses the joint, which reduces inflammation. 
  2. Exercise
    1. A doctor may suggest some physical therapy to heal the injury at the joint, which will eventually reduce the inflammation.
    2. However, one should not try to follow any exercise without proper consultation from a professional.
    3. Certain exercises can also make the movement of the joint better and help in healing the injuries faster. A physical therapist might also be able to help in cases of chronic inflammation.
  3. Epsom Salt Treatment: Soaking the affected joint in Epsom salt water can also ease the pain.

Results of Joint Inflammation

Chronic joint inflammation can lead to joint damage. Surrounding muscles can also suffer damage due to inflammation. It can also wear down the cartilage (that is, the connective tissue found in the body) and the joint lining. This leads to excessive irritation.


When to See a Doctor?

For minor injuries, a person does not need to go to a doctor. They heal on their own. However, for severe injuries, proper treatment and medication are required. If a person has symptoms such as pain, swelling, water retention, stiffness, and redness, they must visit a medical professional to get treatment. Here are some things to consider:

  1. If the pain of the injury does not go away in a few days
  2. Daily functions are getting hampered because of the pain being intense such as walking, lying down, etc.
  3. Pain is accompanied by fever
  4. If the injury is so severe that a person suspects bone damage (fracture)


Chronic joint inflammation can affect one or more joints in your body. It is best to seek medical treatment before the condition becomes worse. Joint inflammation can be difficult to treat if it becomes chronic in nature and is left untreated for a long time. 


Updated on : 15 July 2022

Disclaimer: The information provided here is for educational and learning purposes only. It doesn't cover every medical condition and might not be relevant to your personal situation. This information isn't medical advice, isn't meant for diagnosing any condition, and shouldn't replace talking to a certified medical or healthcare professional.


Dr. Aman Priya Khanna

Dr. Aman Priya Khanna

MBBS, DNB General Surgery, Fellowship in Minimal Access Surgery, FIAGES

12 Years Experience

Dr Aman Priya Khanna is a well-known General Surgeon, Proctologist and Bariatric Surgeon currently associated with HealthFort Clinic, Health First Multispecialty Clinic in Delhi. He has 12 years of experience in General Surgery and worke...View More


Rajath R Prabhu

Rajath R Prabhu

MSc. Clinical Research I PG Diploma in Public Health Services Management

3 Years Experience

His work in medical content writing and proofreading is noteworthy. He has also contributed immensely to public health research and has authored four scientific manuscripts in international journals. He was assoc...View More

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