Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
Arthrocentesis takes joint fluid out using a needle. It can be done in most of the joints in the body. It is usually done on large joints like the knee or shoulder.
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Reasons for Procedure
It is done to:
Find out why a joint is painful, swollen, or is filled with fluid
Drain fluid to reduce pain and allow you to move the joint better
Diagnose the type of arthritis in a joint
Confirm a diagnosis of infection
Check for crystals in the joint fluid, which could be a sign of
In some cases, medicine may be injected in the joint space after the fluid has been taken out.
Problems are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will go over some problems, like:
Things that may raise the risk of problems are:
Infections on the skin
Recent fever or infection
Use of blood thinners
What to Expect
Prior to Procedure
Before your procedure:
Talk to your doctor about your medicines. You may be asked to stop taking some medicines up to one week before the graft.
Talk to your doctor about any herbs or supplements you take. You may be asked to stop taking some.
You may be given local anesthesia. This numbs the site where the needle will enter the joint.
Description of the Procedure
The needle site will be cleaned. Next, a needle attached to a syringe will be inserted into the joint. Fluid will be pulled into the syringe. After this, medicine may be injected into the joint through the needle. After the needle is taken out, pressure will be put on the spot. A bandage will be put on the site.
How Long Will It Take?
About 5-10 minutes
How Much Will It Hurt?
You may feel stinging or burning if local anesthesia is used.
Follow your doctor’s
when you return home.
Call Your Doctor
Call your doctor if you have:
Signs of infection, such as fever and chills
Redness, swelling, increasing pain, excessive bleeding, or any discharge from the site
Pain that isn't relieved by the medicine you've been given
If you think you have an emergency, call for emergency medical services right away.
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases
http://www.niams.nih.gov CANADIAN RESOURCES:
The Arthritis Society
Canadian Orthopaedic Association
Arthritis. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL) Updated April 30, 2017. Accessed May 29, 2018.
Knee pain treatment. Arthritis Foundation website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL) Accessed May 29, 2018.
Synovial fluid analysis. Lab Tests Online—American Association for Clinical Chemistry website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL) Updated May 29, 2018. Accessed May 29, 2018.
Zuber TJ. Knee joint aspiration and injection.
Am Fam Physician. 2002;66(8):1497-1501.
Last reviewed May 2018 by
EBSCO Medical Review Board
Warren A. Bodine, DO, CAQSM Last Updated: 5/29/2018