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Does Arthritis Cause Swelling?

Does Arthritis Cause Swelling?


Arthritis does cause swelling.

Arthritis is a term that refers to inflammation of the body’s joints. It is estimated that approximately 50 million adults in the United States have been diagnosed with a form of arthritis. [!] There are several varieties of condition, which can have many causes, some of which are relatively unknown to medical experts. Though arthritis is marked by symptoms like pain, heat in the affected area, and stiffness, one of the symptoms is often marked by swelling. The exact cause of swelling varies and depends largely on the type of arthritis that is associated.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis occurs when the synovial membrane is attacked, resulting in swelling and pain. There is no known cure for this type of arthritis, and doctors often take multiple approaches to treating it. For example, a patient may be instructed to use ibuprofen, Naproxen, or acetaminophen to address pain. The patient may also be advised to apply heat to remedy stiffness, a cold pack to minimize swelling, or even massage therapy to help manage the condition’s symptoms. [#]

Infectious Arthritis

Infectious arthritis, also known as septic arthritis, is a form of joint inflammation that is the result of a bacterial, viral, or fungal infection entering a joint through the bloodstream. The infection may cause swelling and typically affects only one joint. People who are diagnosed with other forms of arthritis may also contract infectious arthritis in the previously affected area. [@]


Osteoarthritis can be caused by excessive wear and tear of the joints over time or by an injury that affects the cartilage between joints. Swelling may occur in the weight-bearing joints like the hips, feet, spine, and knees. People who are diagnosed with osteoarthritis generally only experience pain and swelling in the affected joint, whereas other arthritis sufferers may have additional symptoms.  [$]

Gouty Arthritis

Gouty arthritis is typically caused by an unbalanced diet that consists of excessive purines. Excessive purine consumption can lead to a buildup of crystals, which cause swelling and extremely painful inflammation. This form of arthritis and its swelling may be remedied with diet modification.   [%]

If you experience swelling in one or more joints that is persistent and may appear to be unrelated to an injury, arthritis may be the cause. A healthcare professional may be able to run the proper tests to diagnose the condition to determine whether arthritis is the underlying cause.



Gout: a metabolic disease marked by a painful inflammation of the joints, deposits of urates in and around the joints, and usually an excessive amount of uric acid in the blood.
Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Purines: A series of heterocyclic compounds that are variously substituted in nature and are known also as purine bases. They include adenine and guanine, constituents of nucleic acids, as well as many alkaloids such as caffeine and theophylline. Uric acid is the metabolic end product of purine metabolism.

Synovial Membrane: A layer of connective tissue that lines the cavities of joints, tendon sheaths, and bursae and makes synovial fluid, which has a lubricating function.



[!] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Arthritis Related Stats

[#] CSA; Janet Padgett PhD

[@] US National Library of Medicine
Infectious Arthritis

[$] Mayo Clinic

Gouty Arthritis


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