Find out why a joint is painful, swollen, or fluid-filled
Drain fluid out of a swollen joint to decrease pain and increase your ability to move the joint
Diagnose the specific type of arthritis occurring within a joint
Confirm a diagnosis of infection in the joint
Check for crystals in the joint fluid, which could be a sign of gout
In some cases, the doctor may inject medicine (eg, cortisone) into the joint space after the fluid has been taken out.
Complications are rare, but no procedure is completely free of risk. If you are planning to have arthrocentesis, your doctor will review a list of possible complications, which may include:
Infection of the joint
Bleeding into the joint
Some factors that may increase the risk of complications include:
Infections on the skin
Recent fever or infection
Use of blood thinners
Be sure to discuss these risks with your doctor before the procedure.
What to Expect
Prior to Procedure
Your doctor may do the following:
Examine your joint
X-ray—a test that uses radiation to take a picture of structures inside the body, especially bones
MRI scan—a test that uses magnetic waves to make pictures of structures inside the body
Your doctor may give you local anesthesia. This numbs the area around the joint.
Description of the Procedure
Your doctor will clean the area where the needle will be inserted. Next, a needle attached to a syringe will be inserted into the fluid-filled joint cavity. Your doctor will draw the fluid into the syringe. After this, the doctor may take the syringe off and inject some medicine into the joint through the needle. After the needle is removed, the doctor will put pressure on the spot over the joint. A bandage will be placed over the area.
How Long Will It Take?
About 5-10 minutes
How Much Will It Hurt?
You may feel stinging or burning if local anesthesia is injected into the area.
When you return home after the procedure, do the following to help ensure a smooth recovery:
For the first 24 hours, ice the joint every 3-4 hours. Do this for 20 minutes at a time.
To reduce discomfort, take a pain reliever.
Ask your doctor when you can resume normal activities.
Be sure to follow your doctor's instructions.
Call Your Doctor
After arriving home, contact your doctor if any of the following occurs:
Signs of infection, including fever and chills
Redness, swelling, increasing pain, excessive bleeding, or any discharge from the site
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care
provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a
substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER
IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the
advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to
starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a