Traumatic synovitis and capsulitis is inflammation of the synovial membrane and fibrous capsule with no apparent radiographic involvement of bone or other structures. Soft tissues involved can include synovial membrane, fibrous joint capsule, and intra-articular ligaments. Synovitis and capsulitis of the carpus is a common primary clinical condition but also may be accompanied by radiographically unapparent osteochondral damage. The cause is usually considered to be cyclic trauma.
Clinical signs include varying degrees of lameness with local heat and swelling. In chronic synovitis and capsulitis, radiographs may show enthesiophytes or osteophytes, but in many instances there are no significant radiographic changes. Treatment is as described under osteoarthritis (see p 964). The most common treatments are intra-articular corticosteroids, alone or in combination with hyaluronate sodium, as well as systemic NSAID. The use of intra-articular polysulfated glycosaminoglycans is also valuable. Recently, more chronic cases have been treated with autologous conditioned serum. If carpal synovitis and capsulitis do not respond to intra-articular therapy, diagnostic arthroscopy is indicated to eliminate medial palmar intercarpal ligament tearing, osteochondral fragmentation not visible on radiographs, or subchondral bone disease.
Last full review/revision March 2012 by Stephen B. Adams, DVM, MS, DACVS; Andrew L. Crawford, BVetMed, CertES (Orth), MRCVS; James K. Belknap, DVM, PhD, DACVS; Jane C. Boswell, MA, VetMB, CertVA, CertES (Orth), DECVS, MRCVS; Peter Clegg, MA, Vet MB, PhD, CertEO, DECVS, MRCVS; Marcus J. Head, BVetMed, MRCVS; C. Wayne McIlwraith, BVSc, PhD, DSc, FRCVS, DACVS; James Schumacher, DVM, MS, DACVS, MRCVS; John Schumacher, DVM, MS, DACVS, MRCVS; Roger K. W. Smith, MA, VetMB, PhD, DEO, DECVS, MRCVS; Chris Whitton, BVSc, FACVSc, PhD; Jean-Marie Denoix, DVM, PhD, Agregé; Joerg A. Auer, DrMedVet, Dr h c, MS, DACVS, DECVS