The doctor may elect to perform an office procedure called arthrocentesis. In this procedure, a sterile needle and syringe are used to drain fluid out of the joint for study in the laboratory. Analysis of the joint fluid can help to exclude other causes of arthritis, such as infection and gout. Arthrocentesis can also be helpful in relieving joint swelling and pain. Occasionally, cortisone medications are injected into the joint during the arthrocentesis in order to rapidly relieve joint inflammation and further reduce symptoms.
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