What does your synovial fluid do?

Your joints can sometimes be one of the casualties of age. While joint conditions aren’t necessarily a part of ageing, soreness, pain, stiffness and general discomfort in your knees, shoulders, hips and hands do often become more common as you get older.

And your synovial fluid is the key to diagnosing why you may experience these conditions.

But what is synovial fluid, you ask?

It’s the thick liquid that lubricates your synovial joints and keeps them moving smoothly.

Synovial joints are the ones in your body where bones are not connected. According to Facty Health, these include ball-and-socket joints in the hip and shoulder, hinge and pivot joints in the elbows, plane joints in the wrist, condyloid joints in fingers and saddle joints in thumbs, and the temporomandibular joint in the jaw.

A cavity exists between these joints and fibrous connective tissue forming the walls of the cavity, creating an articular capsule.

The consistency and colour of your synovial fluid changes when you experience joint conditions such as arthritis, gout, infections, and bleeding disorders.

A procedure called an arthrocentesis – when a sample of your synovial fluid is taken by a doctor – can help to figure out what’s causing your symptoms.

You may wish to request a synovial joint fluid analysis if you have joint symptoms such as, pain, redness, swellingor fluid build-up.

The analysis can also help your doctor figure out if you have an inflammatory condition such as gout, rheumatoid arthritis, or lupus; an infection such as septic arthritis; haemophilia, von Willebrand disease or another bleeding disorder; or any disease that can break down your joints over time such as osteoarthritis; or to see if your current joint condition treatment is working.

It’s a simple procedure. Your doctor will give you a local anaesthetic and put a needle in to extract some fluid. It will then be sent to a lab, where a technician will check your fluid’s colour and thickness; measure for glucose, protein and uric acid; measure red and white blood cells and crystals, and test for bacteria, viruses, or other germs.

You can protect your synovial fluid by staying hydrated and eating a well-balanced diet. Light exercise and stretching can also promote and protect joint function.

Fatty acids found in fish and nuts are good for your joints, as are these joint-health promoting foods and supplements containing glucosamine and chondroitin. You should, however, speak to your health professional before trying any new supplements.

How do you look after your joints?

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Health disclaimer: This article contains general information about health issues and is not advice. For health advice, consult your medical practitioner.

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Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca has worked in publishing and media in one form or another for around 25 years. He's a voracious reader, word spinner and art, writing, design, painting, drawing, travel and photography enthusiast. You'll often find him roaming through galleries or exploring the streets of his beloved Melbourne and surrounding suburbs, sketchpad or notebook in hand, smiling.
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