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Intraarticular vs. Extraarticular: What's the Difference?

By Harlon Moss & Aimie Carlson || Updated on May 22, 2024
Intraarticular refers to something occurring within a joint, such as an injection or injury. Extraarticular refers to something occurring outside of a joint, like inflammation or a fracture.

Key Differences

Intraarticular pertains to anything situated or happening inside a joint. This term is commonly used in medical contexts to describe injections, medications, or injuries that affect the interior of a joint. Extraarticular, on the other hand, refers to anything located or occurring outside of a joint. This term is used to describe conditions, injuries, or interventions that involve the tissues surrounding a joint, such as muscles, tendons, and ligaments.
Intraarticular conditions typically involve the cartilage, synovial fluid, and joint capsule, leading to issues like joint pain, swelling, and reduced mobility. Extraarticular conditions, however, involve structures outside the joint, resulting in symptoms like soft tissue swelling, tenderness, and pain in the surrounding area.
Treatment approaches for intraarticular conditions often include joint-specific interventions such as injections, arthroscopic surgeries, and targeted physical therapy. Extraarticular conditions, meanwhile, may require treatments that focus on the surrounding tissues, including physiotherapy, anti-inflammatory medications, and sometimes surgery to repair or stabilize affected muscles or tendons.

Comparison Chart


Occurring within a joint
Occurring outside of a joint


Medical, particularly joint-related treatments
Medical, related to tissues surrounding joints

Common Examples

Intraarticular injections, intraarticular injuries
Extraarticular inflammation, extraarticular fractures


Joint interior, cartilage, synovial fluid
Surrounding muscles, tendons, ligaments


Joint-specific interventions
Treatments focused on surrounding tissues

Intraarticular and Extraarticular Definitions


Occurring within a joint.
The doctor administered an intraarticular injection to reduce knee inflammation.


Relating to tissues surrounding a joint.
Extraarticular inflammation can affect the muscles and tendons around a joint.


Pertaining to conditions within the joint space.
Osteoarthritis is an example of an intraarticular condition.


Pertaining to areas outside the joint capsule.
The diagnosis revealed an extraarticular fracture in the femur.


Involving joint structures like cartilage and synovial fluid.
The patient received intraarticular corticosteroids to manage arthritis.


Situated outside the joint cavity.
Extraarticular bursitis can cause significant pain and swelling.


Relating to the inside of a joint.
Intraarticular fractures can cause severe pain and limited mobility.


Involving muscles, tendons, or ligaments near a joint.
The physiotherapist treated the patient for extraarticular tendonitis.


Situated within the joint cavity.
Intraarticular lesions often require arthroscopic surgery for treatment.


Occurring outside of a joint.
The athlete suffered an extraarticular ligament tear during practice.


(anatomy) Situated within a joint


(anatomy) Situated outside of a joint.


Situated outside of a joint.


What does intraarticular mean?

Intraarticular means occurring within a joint.

What does extraarticular mean?

Extraarticular means occurring outside of a joint.

Where are extraarticular injuries located?

Extraarticular injuries are located in the tissues surrounding a joint, such as muscles, tendons, or ligaments.

What conditions might require intraarticular treatment?

Conditions like arthritis, joint inflammation, and intraarticular fractures might require intraarticular treatment.

Where are intraarticular injections administered?

Intraarticular injections are administered directly into the joint space.

Are extraarticular conditions less serious?

Not necessarily, extraarticular conditions can also be serious and impact function significantly.

Can a fracture be intraarticular?

Yes, an intraarticular fracture involves the joint surface itself.

What is the main focus of extraarticular treatments?

The main focus of extraarticular treatments is to address issues in the surrounding tissues outside the joint.

What type of conditions are considered extraarticular?

Conditions like tendonitis, ligament tears, and soft tissue inflammation are considered extraarticular.

What imaging techniques are used for intraarticular issues?

Imaging techniques like MRI and arthroscopy are used to diagnose intraarticular issues.

Can a fracture be extraarticular?

Yes, an extraarticular fracture is near a joint but does not involve the joint surface.

Can intraarticular and extraarticular conditions coexist?

Yes, both types of conditions can coexist, affecting both the joint and surrounding tissues.

Do extraarticular conditions often require long-term management?

Yes, extraarticular conditions can require long-term management and rehabilitation.

What is the main focus of intraarticular treatments?

The main focus of intraarticular treatments is to address issues within the joint space.

Are intraarticular conditions always severe?

Not always, but they can be severe and often require targeted treatment within the joint.

Is surgery always required for intraarticular problems?

Surgery is not always required; it depends on the severity and type of intraarticular problem.

Is physiotherapy beneficial for extraarticular conditions?

Yes, physiotherapy is often beneficial for treating extraarticular conditions.

Can intraarticular injections be repeated?

Yes, but the frequency and necessity depend on the specific medical condition and response to treatment.

What imaging techniques are used for extraarticular issues?

Imaging techniques like ultrasound and MRI are used to diagnose extraarticular issues.

Are intraarticular and extraarticular terms specific to any medical specialty?

These terms are commonly used in orthopedics, rheumatology, and sports medicine.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Co-written by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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