Joint Aspiration

Joint aspiration is a procedure that utilizes a syringe and a needle to remove fluid from the space around the joints in the body.

What is joint aspiration?

Joint aspiration is a procedure that utilizes a syringe and a needle to remove fluid from the space around the joints in the body. The most common joint aspiration sites are the shoulder, elbow, hip, wrist, knee and ankle. Patients are usually given a local anesthetic during the procedure; joint fluid is aspirated in order to relieve swelling and/or collect fluid for analysis. The fluid sample can help to diagnose a joint disorder or issue. Your physician may also use X-rays, CT scans or an arthroscopy to further help with a diagnosis.

When might I need one?

Your doctor might recommend a joint aspiration if you are feeling joint pressure or pain, or if you are having trouble moving your joints. Removing fluid from the joints can improve all of those conditions and it can also treat bursitis (an inflammation of the bursa, a sac-like cavity that counters joint friction). Bursitis causes fluid to collect near a joint, causing joint pain and stiffness. The procedure is also known to help treat tendinitis, an inflammation of a tendon (thick, fibrous cords that connect muscle to bone).

The procedure can also help diagnose gout, various types of arthritis and joint infections. Gout is a complex form of arthritis that causes sudden and severe attacks of pain, swelling and tenderness in the joints, most commonly the big toe.

What happens during the procedure?

Joint aspirations can be done as an outpatient procedure, allowing you to go home the same day. In other cases, you may stay in the hospital for a night or two, depending on your condition and your healthcare provider. During the procedure, you will be given a gown to wear and you will be positioned in a way that your doctor can easily reach the joint that needs the aspiration. The skin is cleaned with an antiseptic solution and a local anesthetic might be injected to numb the area. Next, your provider will insert a needle through your skin and into a joint. You may feel a bit of pressure and discomfort as fluid is removed and drawn into the syringe. After fluid has been drawn, the needle is removed and you will bandaged up. Your fluid sample will be sent to the lab for examination. The results will be available after a few weeks and your doctor may set up an appointment to review the findings with you.

Questions or concerns about the procedure?

If you live in Encinitas or San Diego County and you’d like to learn more about joint aspiration (including the risks), give us a call. If you are suffering from joint problems, there are many solutions that can help you get relief.