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How To Drain Fluid From Knee

When Should I Call The Doctor

  • Allergic reaction, such as worsening pain or difficulty breathing.
  • Signs of infection, such as redness, heat or swelling at the treatment site.
  • Worsening pain at the treatment site.

A note from Cleveland Clinic

Joint aspiration can help your healthcare provider determine the cause of joint inflammation and pain. The procedure is also therapeutic. When combined with joint injections, you may get temporary symptom relief. Talk with your provider about whether these treatments are a good option for you.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 01/23/2021.


  • American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Viscosupplementation. Accessed 2/5/2021.
  • American College of Rheumatology. Joint Injections . Accessed 2/5/2021.
  • InformedHealth.org. Joint Aspiration. Accessed 2/5/2021.
  • National Health Service . Hydrocortisone Injections. Accessed 2/5/2021.
  • Zuber TJ. Knee Joint Aspiration and Injection. American Family Physician. 2002 66:1497-1501.Accessed 2/5/2021.

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What Causes A Swollen Knee

There are many causes of swelling in the knee, but often it is due to an injury. Damage to ligaments, especially the anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL, causes fluid to build up around the knee. Tearing the cartilage, overuse, and breaking bones can also cause fluid buildup.

However, other underlying conditions like osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, infection, gout, pseudo-gout, bursitis, cysts, and tumors, can also cause swelling.

Knee Joint Effusion: Causes Treatment And Self

The swelling is usually gone after the cause of the swollen joint has been identified and treated. There is no cure for knee joint effusion however, it is usually a minor problem that requires minor care. If the effusion is severe, it may necessitate seeing a physician. Depending on the severity of the problem, medications or physical therapy may be used.

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Why Does Fluid Gather In The Knee Joint

A swollen knee might be an indication that excessive fluid is present in the joint. In some cases, you may even be able to feel the liquid when you lightly press on the swollen area.

Like other problems associated with knee pain and swelling, trauma may have caused the fluid to build up in the knee joint. The knees response to trauma is to protect itself. The body will produce fluid that invades the space where the trauma occurred. This is often referred to as edema, to describe swelling that has resulted from fluid buildup.

One of the most common reasons for fluid build up is an arthritic joint. Rheumatoid arthritis is especially hard on knee joints, but can be successfully treated when properly diagnosed. Although medical science hasnt defined the cause for rheumatoid arthritis, the symptoms have been defined and can include water on the knee.

Knee osteoarthritis is quite painful and can cause water on the knee. Osteoarthritis occurs when cartilage in the knee wears down over time, resulting in bone on bone friction. There is no cure for osteoarthritis, but the symptoms can be addressed.

If you have water on the knee that is accompanied with pain, stiffness, and fatigue, and the knee is warm to the touch, you might have rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis are just two origins, but there are others.

What Happens During A Joint Aspiration

Drain Fluid From Knee Naturally

A joint aspiration may be done on an outpatient basis or as part ofyour stay in a hospital. Procedures may vary depending on yourcondition and your healthcare providerâs practices.

Generally, a joint aspiration procedure follows this process:

  • You will be asked to remove clothing and will be given a gown to wear.

  • You will be positioned so that the healthcare provider can easily reach the joint that is to be aspirated.

  • The skin over the joint aspiration site will be cleansed with an antiseptic solution.

  • If a local anesthetic is used, you will feel a needle stick when the anesthetic is injected. This may cause a brief stinging sensation.

  • The healthcare provider will insert the needle through the skin into the joint. You may feel some discomfort or pressure.

  • The healthcare provider will remove the fluid by drawing it into a syringe that is attached to the needle.

  • The needle will be removed and a sterile bandage or dressing will be applied.

  • The fluid sample will be sent to the lab for examination.

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    S For Reducing Fluid In The Knee

    Step 1 Stop any activity that may have caused the knee to swell, like running, jumping or twisting. Terminate action that makes your knee swell or hurt. You might have to avoid driving if it causes discomfort to run the brake or gas pedals.

    Step 2 Rest with the leg elevated to reduce swelling naturally. This allows fluid to drain away, and reduces pressure on the joint. Dont walk or put weight on the knee unnecessarily until the pain and fluid have gone away.

    Step 3 Use a cold pack to reduce pain and reduce fluid accumulation. You can use a wash cloth taken in cold water, or an industrial cold pack kept in the freezer. Do not use ice or freezer loads directly on the skin instead, wrap the frozen item in a towel and cover it around the knee. Apply this cold pack for 15 to 20 minutes every two to four hours as needed for pain.

    Step 4 Wrap the leg with an elastic bandage. This must reduce build-up of fluid on the knee. Do not wrap the knee so securely that it cuts off circulation get rid of the bandage if numbness or tingling in the foot happens, or if the foot feels warm.

    Step 5 Take a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory like ibuprofen or naproxen to decrease or prevent inflammation, MayoClinic.com recommends. Trademark name medications that include NSAIDs can include Advil, Motrin or Aleve. Take them with food to prevent stomach inflammation. A painkiller, such as acetaminophen or Tylenol, can likewise be used to relieve pain, but will not reduce the inflammation in the knee.

    Knee Infection After Surgery

    Knee replacement surgery is a common surgery that doesnt present complications for most people. In less than 1 percent of joint replacement surgeries, an infection occurs around the area of the artificial implant. However, as joint replacements are on the rise, so is the rate of infection.

    Since artificial joints are made of metal and plastic, they dont have any sort of immune capability to fight off harmful bacteria. Artificial joints can become infected at the time of your surgery, or even years after your surgery.

    Surgeries performed to repair torn cartilage or tendons can also introduce bacteria to the knee joint. ACL repair and meniscus repair are among the common knee surgeries that can result in an infection.

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    What Is The Recovery Period Following Knee Aspiration

    In most cases, removal of excess fluid provides great relief in reducing swelling, pain and also improves joint movement. Further medications and joint compression helps to prevent recurrence. While improvement continues complete relief may be obtained in few weeks to months depending on the underlying cause of knee swelling. In some cases appropriate repair procedures may have to be performed.

    It is important to follow medical advice regarding rest, movement of legs and other activities. It is advisable to avoid strenuous activities for a few days after the procedure. Medical opinion should be sought if there is redness, soreness, excessive pain, bleeding or oozing from the aspiration site, fever within few days of the procedure.

    Will Fluid On The Knee Go Away

    How to get rid of Fluid on The Knee at Home

    Again, how long water on the knee lasts depends on the cause of the buildup.

    In some cases, fluid on the knee does go away by itself. For instance, if the cause of the effusion is temporary â like an injury â then the fluid should subside once you’ve healed, according to the Cleveland Clinic. How long that takes depends on the severity of your injury.

    But if you have an underlying disease that contributes to the effusion, then you may not be able to eliminate your symptoms entirely.

    How Can You Tell the Difference Between Fluid in the Knee and Other Swelling or Inflammation?

    It can be tricky to tell if your knee pain or swelling is the result of an effusion or something else, as many knee issues cause similar symptoms.

    The best way to determine the cause of your discomfort is to visit your doctor, per the Cleveland Clinic.

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    How To Care For A Swollen Knee

    This blog post was updated for content on October 20. 2020. Existing comments have not been modified or removed.

    Knee swelling occurs when excess fluid accumulates on or around the knee joints. Doctors call this an effusion, and some people call it water on the knee. Sometimes, swelling will go away with home treatments. Other times, it may require visiting a doctor for medical treatment.

    Do They Numb Your Knee Before Draining It

    There is no universal answer to this question as the decision to numb the knee before draining it will depend on the individual case and the preference of the doctor. That being said, in many cases, the knee will be numbed with a local anesthetic before it is drained in order to minimize any discomfort.

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    Knee Effusion: A Common Problem

    An over-the-counter medicine is one of the causes of knee effusion, which can be caused by a variety of factors. A needle aspiration may be required if the cause is not immediately clear. It is not uncommon for knee effusion to be mild, but if left untreated, it can lead to the formation of a Baker cyst.

    What Are The Risks Of A Joint Aspiration

    To help my husband to relieve the pain from knee replacement, here are ...

    As with any surgical procedure, complications can happen. Some possiblecomplications may include:

    • Discomfort at the aspiration site

    • Bruising at the aspiration site

    • Swelling at the aspiration site

    • Infection at the aspiration site

    There may be other risks depending on your specific medical condition. Besure to discuss any concerns with your healthcare provider before theprocedure.

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    The Problems Of Excess Weight And Obesity Causes More Inflammation

    When we suggest to the patient that their knee can benefit from weight loss, we typically hear, I know, I know, or I have been trying. These are the typical responses of someone who has tried to lose weight and is tired of being lectured. Weight gain, like knee osteoarthritis, is a slow methodical problem that cannot be made to go away overnight. To lose weight you must find the inner motivation to do so. Maybe research can help.

    In July 2020, researchers writing in the medical journal Skeletal Radiology looked at three patient groups. All the patients had knee osteoarthritis. The three groups were: people with normal weight people who were overweight people who were obese. What they were looking for was a relationship between excess weight and increases knee inflammation. Here are the results:

    • Being overweight or obese was significantly associated with a greater prevalence and severity of synovial inflammation imaging biomarkers. Substantial reproducibility and high correlation with knee structural, cartilage compositional degeneration, and pain scores validate the synovial inflammation biomarkers used in this study.

    What does all this mean? The more weight, the more inflammation, the more pain, the greater the need for medication, the greater the knee pain, the greater the eventual need for knee replacement.

    How Would You Use It For Therapy On My Knee

    When a knee swells up, its usually because the body is trying to protect the joint by producing more of that lubricating fluid. But the volume of new fluid can be quite substantial even as much as 180-200ml, which can cause the knee to swell up dramatically. Aside from mobility problems, this puts pressure on the joint which can be painful. Here the aspiration aims to drain off some of the fluid to relieve pressure within the joint. While this often relieves the pain, its important to remember that the procedure itself isnt curing the problem. We still need to know whats causing the swelling so we can treat that underlying condition separately.

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    Arthrocentesis Of The Knee

    The knee and connecting suprapatellar pouch can be punctured while the patient is supine and the knee is extended. The needle, 18- or 20-gauge, can be inserted anteromedially, under the cephalad half or third of the patella. Alternatively, the needle can be inserted laterally, just under the cephalad edge of the patella .

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    Swelling Pain Or Redness After Surgery Consult Your Surgeon Or Physical Therapist


    If you have any swelling, pain, or redness after surgery, you should consult with your surgeon or physical therapist as soon as possible. In addition, it is critical to follow their post-op instructions carefully in order to reduce the risk of re-injury. Patients usually recover within three to five days of surgery and have a full recovery within a few weeks.

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    How Often Can You Drain Fluid From Knee

    Although this complication occurs in less than 1 percent of patients, it is recommended that injections be performed no more frequently than every six to eight weeks, and no more than three times per year in weight-bearing joints. A Large Knee Effusion Re-accumulated Right After Being Drained…. read more

    What Is The Best Way To Get Rid Of Fluid On The Knee

    This is purely situational. Whats best for you may be different for someone else.

    The RICE method is essentially first-aid for fresh injuries.Oral over-the-counter medications like pain relievers and NSAIDs are solid options but topical salicylates may be better if the former give you gastric distress.

    Corticosteroids may also be prescribed if OTC options dont work or if the knee swelling is caused by autoimmune disorders

    Your doctor may also order antibiotics if bacterial infections are what caused the swelling and knee pain.Knee joint aspiration can also be an option to quickly evacuate the water inside your knees.

    Minimally invasive and extensive knee surgeries may be required if structures in and around your joint need repair.

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    How To Get Rid Of Water On The Knee Or Fluid On The Knee

    All of our joints contain small amounts of fluids that aid their proper functioning. This lubricant helps us reduce friction inside the joint. Joint effusion, or fluid on the knee, occurs when too much of this liquid build up around the joint.

    Excessive liquid like this can incapacitate us, make daily activities a real burden, and significantly reduce our mobility. If you suspect that extra fluid is pressing on your knee joint, continue on reading the next sections. This condition is commonly known as Water on the Knee.

    For quick relief, check out The Trigger Point Therapy for more information about how you can efficiently reduce pain. So lets find out how to get rid of fluid on the knee.

    How Are Arthrocentesis And Joint Injections Performed

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    Joint aspirations and injections take place in your healthcare providers office. Your provider may use images from an ultrasound or X-rays to guide procedures.

    First, your provider disinfects the skin. For smaller joints, your provider applies a numbing cream to the skin. You may need a local anesthetic to numb a bigger joint section like the hips or shoulders.

    During joint aspiration and injection, your provider:

  • Inserts a thin needle into the joint.
  • Attaches an empty syringe to the needle and draws fluid out of the joint . Your provider may need multiple syringes to remove all of the fluid.
  • Removes the syringe with the excess fluid and replaces it with a syringe that contains medication.
  • Uses the same needle and entry point to inject medication into the joint.
  • Places a bandage over the treatment area.
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    How Do Patients Prepare For A Joint Aspiration And Does It Cause Pain

    Patients do not need any special preparation before a joint aspiration. The aspiration is easily performed in a doctor’s office as an outpatient procedure. Pain is minimized by topical or local anesthetics applied onto the patient’s skin or just beneath the skin. Usually, there is a momentary, slight amount of pain as the needle is inserted into the patient’s joint space. Withdrawal of the fluid into the syringe does not typically cause pain. Injection of medication into the joint does not typically cause pain. There is very slight pain sometimes as the needle is withdrawn from the joint. Any pain is reduced by topical or local anesthetics that block pain sensation.

    Indications Of Knee Aspiration For Diagnostic Purposes Include

    • To evaluate joint effusion
    • To assess unexplained monoarticular arthritis
    • To evaluate possible infective or septic arthritis
    • To evaluate type of arthritis and joint related conditions
    • To determine presence of crystal induced conditions like gout
    • To determine the nature of accumulated fluid and cytology studies in synovial fluid analysis.

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    What Causes Joint Pain

    Joints are part of your skeletal system. They are the connection where two bones meet.

    Cartilage tissue at the ends of bones helps them move and glide. Synovial fluid cushions and lubricates joints and cartilage. Joint pain, inflammation and swelling occur when something reduces the synovial fluid, cartilage or both.

    Conditions that cause joint pain include:

    Does Fluid On Knee Go Away

    MoraMD: Knee Effusion Aspiration. A Nearly Painless Technique

    Often once the cause of the swollen joint gets treated, the swelling goes away. However, not all causes of a knee joint effusion are curable. For many, treatment consists of managing your symptoms instead of eliminating them. There are several ways healthcare providers manage your swollen joint…. see more

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