Most people are familiar with the traditional solution to a swollen knee: wrap some ice around it, rest, and allow the body to recover naturally. But what if this tried and true therapy fails? After a month-long struggle with swelling in his right knee, superstar forward for the New York Knicks, Carmelo Anthony, finally had his knee drained. Within 24 hours of the procedure, Anthony publicly expressed his regrets at not undergoing the knee drainage sooner.

Fearing that his knee swelling was the result of cartilage or ligament damage, which could require surgery, Anthony postponed knee drainage for weeks while attempting to rest and gently rehabilitate his knee. He sat out six games and offered an underwhelming performance in two more before deciding to have the knee drained. The procedure revealed that the pain and stiffness were actually due to fluid from a strained hamstring draining down and putting pressure on the knee.

Anthony has since returned to the court pain-free, helping the Knicks battle to maintain their seed for the upcoming NBA playoffs. If not for knee drainage, he might still be watching his team play from the sidelines. If you are experiencing pain or swelling in the knee and want to learn more about knee drainage, feel free to schedule a consultation with Dr. Millstein.

How Does Knee Drainage Work?

Drainage of a joint, also known as arthrocentesis, is a procedure used to remove excess fluid from the knee. After numbing the knee with a local anesthetic, Dr. Millstein will insert a needle under the kneecap and use it to draw out fluid from within the joint space. By releasing pressure on the joint, this simple in-office procedure can provide patients with a significant reduction in knee pain and stiffness.

Knee drainage is often used as a diagnostic tool to determine the cause of swelling and to assess the need for further treatment. The fluid produced by various soft tissue injuries, infection, or auto-immune disease often retains distinct properties. Once the fluid has been extracted, its composition can be analyzed under a microscope to determine the best therapeutic options.

Though the swelling in Anthony’s knee was due to a strained hamstring, the majority of knee drainages are performed to relieve pain associated with arthritis. One of the most common and debilitating symptoms of arthritis is swelling and inflammation of the damaged joint. Knee drainage can be a very effective alternative for patients who have not found relief from more conservative therapies.

When to Consider Knee Drainage

Knee swelling can be a painful, functionally debilitating condition and should not be ignored. Many cases of knee swelling can be resolved with rest, ice, physical therapy, and anti-inflammatory medication. However, if the swelling begins to restrict movement or becomes increasingly painful, you may be eligible for knee drainage.

Knee drainage can both diagnose the source of swelling and provide effective pain relief and improved mobility. Moreover, it is a simple in-office procedure requiring very little downtime. If you are experiencing pain and swelling in your knee, drainage may be the most effective option to get you back to performing your daily activities pain-free.

To Speak With An Orthopedic Surgeon

Dr. Eric Millstein, a Beverly Hills board certified orthopedic surgeon, is a leading expert in advanced arthroscopic techniques and treats various sports-related injuries. To learn more about knee drainage or to Schedule An Appointment, contact Dr. Millstein at (310) 595-1030.

Dr. Millstein

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