Skip to main content

Getting a Joint Injection or Joint Aspiration

Photo of the Children's Mercy Adele Hall Campus sign with the Children's Mercy Research Institute building in the background.

What are joints?

Joints are the part of the body where bones meet, like your knees, elbows, and wrists. Joints help your body move.

Close-up of a knee joint.
Close-up of a wrist joint.

Why do you need a joint injection or aspiration?

If your joints hurt or swell, your doctor may talk about doing a joint injection or a joint aspiration

A joint injection is when a doctor puts medicine into your joint to help the swelling and pain go away.

Knee joint being injected with a needle.

A joint aspiration is when a little bit of the fluid that is making your joint hurt gets taken out.

A Children's Mercy patient having a joint aspiration of her elbow.

Joint injection and joint aspiration steps


  1. We often numb your skin before you get a joint injection or joint aspiration. When your skin is numb, you will not feel the joint injection or joint aspiration as much.
    • Numbing cream sits on your skin for 20-30 minutes and feels like lotion. We use a clear bandage to help the cream stay in place.
    • A J-tip sprays numbing medicine under your skin. It makes a noise when it sprays. Some kids say it sounds like opening a soda can.
A patient's knee with numbing cream and a clear bandaged applied to it.
Numbing cream being applied to a patient's knee with a J-tip.
  1. After the numbing medicine makes your skin numb, the doctor will wash your skin with a soapy sponge.
A small soapy sponge being applied to a patient's knee.
  1. Next, the doctor will use a needle to either put medicine into your joint or take fluid out of your joint.
A Children's Mercy provider using a needle on a young patient to either do a joint injection or joint aspiration on the patient's wrist.

What is your job when getting a joint injection or joint aspiration?

Your job is to stay very still. You will either sit up or lay down. Your family can be close to you.

A Children's Mercy patient laying on hospital bed and holding a toy as a distraction. The patient's mother is sitting next to the patient and also holding a toy.

Things that can help when you get a joint injection or joint aspiration


  • Take slow, deep breaths.
  • Hold someone’s hand.
  • Squeeze a ball.
  • Choose to watch or look at something else, like a book or tablet.

When the doctor is done, you will get a bandage.

Provider hands applying an adhesive bandage to a patient's knee.

Contact a child life specialist

Child life specialists can help children:

  • Plan and practice coping skills and use these during medical procedures and events.
  • Choose comfort measures.
  • Work through feelings, thoughts and questions.

You can speak with a child life specialist before you come for your visit or while you are here.

Choose how you would like to contact a child life specialist: