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Joint Aspiration


What you need to know about joint aspiration:

Joint aspiration is a procedure to remove fluid from the space around your joint. It may be done on a joint such as the knee, hip, ankle, shoulder, elbow, or wrist. It may be used to find the cause of a swollen joint. Joint aspiration can also be done to help decrease pain caused by swelling and improve movement of your joint.

How to prepare for joint aspiration:

Your healthcare provider will talk to you about how to prepare for this procedure. He will tell you what medicines to take or not take on the day of your procedure. You may need to stop taking blood thinners several days before your procedure.

What will happen during joint aspiration:

You may be given local anesthesia to numb the area where the needle will be injected. With local anesthesia, you may still feel pressure during the procedure, but you should not feel any pain. Your healthcare provider may use ultrasound or x-ray to guide the needle to the right area. He will then insert the needle into your joint and draw back fluid into a syringe. A bandage will be placed on the injection site. The fluid may be sent to a lab for tests.

Risks of joint aspiration:

You may get an infection in your joint or bleed more than expected. Cartilage in your joint may be injured by the needle.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You have a fever or chills.
  • You have redness or swelling at the injection site.
  • You have more pain than usual in your joint for more than 72 hours.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.


  • Pain medicine may be given. Ask how to take this medicine safely.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him or her if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.


  • Leave the bandage on for 8 to 12 hours. Care for your wound as directed.
  • Rest the area as directed. You may need to decrease weight on certain joints, such as the knee, for a period of time. Ask when you can return to your daily activities.
  • Elevate your limb where the joint aspiration was done. Elevate the limb above the level of your heart as often as you can. This will help decrease swelling and pain. Prop your limb on pillows or blankets to keep it elevated comfortably.
  • Apply ice on your joint for 15 to 20 minutes every hour or as directed. Use an ice pack, or put crushed ice in a plastic bag. Cover it with a towel. Ice helps prevent tissue damage and decreases swelling and pain.

Follow up with your doctor as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Joint Aspiration (Ambulatory Care)

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.