Joint swelling

Indicates the disruption in articular anatomy or function.

Evaluation includes history and physical examination, laboratory testing, imaging studies and tissue analysis.

History may provide information as to how the joint abnormality began.

The rapidity of onset provides information as to the etiology of the swelling.

Immediate onset of swelling, associated with fracture, anterior cruciate ligament, or posterior cruciate ligament tear and joint dislocation.

Sub acute swelling, with a 2-6 hour onset, is associated with meniscus and cartilage injuries.

Anytime joint swelling occurs, especially if it is of recent origin, the affected joints should be aspirated.

Chronic swelling of a joint associated with osteoarthritis, unstable cartilage and infection processes.

Examination of the joint by observation, palpation, and manipulation provides information about deviations from the normal state.

Information about whether the joint or soft tissues periarticular or articular, surrounding the joint are involved is sought.

The joint is examined for the presence of redness, heat, tenderness and inflammation.

If persists for more than 1 day following an injury a fracture, ligament tear or meniscus injury or cartilage injury must be ruled out.

Diagnostic techniques include radiographs to rule out fracture, MRI imaging to establish ligament or meniscus injury.

The best tool for cartilage injury is the MRI scan.

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