WOW Programme

Joint Puncture

What is a Joint Puncture?

A joint puncture is where a needle is inserted into the joint cavity to either have medication injected into the joint to assist with inflammation and pain or fluid aspirated (removed) from the joint to aid with the swelling and reduce pressure on the joint.

The most commonly injected joint punctures are around the shoulder (subacromial bursa) and hip (trochanteric (submaximus) bursa), but a joint puncture injection might also be helpful in many other areas of the body. These include the elbow (olecranon bursa) and the knee (prepatellar bursa) or other conditions that would benefit or require joint puncture. This will be discussed at length with the patient and clinician at the time of appointment.

Joint Puncture might be needed if:

  • Your joint pain has not improved after making simple lifestyle changes, such as resting the joint, using compression bands or taking anti-inflammatory               
  • Movement of the affected area might be painful and you might also have reduced movement.
  • Can help soothe joint pain caused by arthritis, bursitis and other painful inflammatory diseases.

The clinician should explain why you need a joint punctured the other options.

Are there any side effects with a Joint Puncture?

The risk of complication from a joint puncture is very low. However, there could be:

  • Bruising
  • Swelling
  • Inflammation at the injection site.

Few people complain of side effects but occasionally problems are experiences such as:

  • Temporary worsening of the symptoms over 1, 2 or 3 days.
  • Very rarely, an injection of corticosteroid and anaesthetic can cause an allergic reaction. The exact risk of this is not known as people can be allergic to the antiseptic solution and dressings/band aids.

There is a small risk of damage to the soft tissue at the injection site. This is called tissue atrophy, which is thinning or scarring of the skin or subcutaneous fat. This can occur when the injected medication is very close to the surface. Tissue atrophy can also affect deeper structures in the body.  This is generally more likely with repeated injections at the same location.