What is fluid aspiration for the heel?

Fluid aspiration is a procedure that removes extra fluid from around a joint or bone. Doctors use a needle or syringe to draw out the fluid. Often, doctors do this for two reasons: to obtain fluid so they can test it, or to relieve swelling and discomfort.

Removing fluid from the joint reduces pressure. That can relieve pain and improve movement in the joint. Sometimes, doctors may follow up a fluid aspiration by injecting medicine afterward.

Your heels have tiny, fluid-filled sacs surrounding them. These sacs can swell up and feel very painful. This condition is called retrocalcaneal bursitis. When this happens, your doctor may do fluid aspiration to relieve heel pain.

What to expect from fluid aspiration in the heel

Before a fluid aspiration, your doctor may perform tests. X-rays, bone scans, MRIs, CT scans and other tests help doctors get a clearer picture of your heel. That way, they can make a diagnosis.

Fluid aspirations happen in a doctor's office or hospital. The doctor cleans the skin around your heel. They also apply a numbing medicine on your heel to reduce pain. The doctor inserts the needle into your skin and draws out the amount of fluid for the test or to reduce symptoms.

The doctor keeps the needle in place if you're having medication injected into your heel. They may simply remove the syringe with the fluid and replace it with the one containing medication. The doctor places a bandage over the injection site. The entire procedure is quick and lasts about 10 minutes, according to Arthritis-Health. You can go home the same day.

Common foot conditions requiring fluid aspiration

Fluid aspirations are helpful for making diagnoses and for relieving foot pain. Bursitis is the most common heel issue that doctors treat with fluid aspiration. Some other foot conditions your doctor might recommend this procedure for are:

  • Gout
  • Arthritis
  • Tendinitis
  • Infections in joints

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