What is an arthrocentesis?

This is a procedure where the jaw joint is washed out with sterile fluid, and it aims to reduce the amount of pain in the joint and potentially help the jaw joint disc to return to its' normal position in the joint.

What does the procedure involve?

This is often done under a day case general anaesthetic, but some patients manage very well with deep intravenous sedation - administered by an anaesthetist.

Two small needles are placed into the jaw joint - and sterile fluid is injected into the joint via one of them - and passes out of the joint through the other.

Your surgeon will often manipulate the jaw joints whilst you are asleep - patients with jaw joint pain often have their jaw movements limited by pain. Moving the jaw whilst you are asleep avoids this pain, and allows the surgeon to establish just what movements your jaw is capable of. Sometimes the manipulation also assists in aiding the disc to return to its' correct position.

At the end of the joint washout, your surgeon may inject some local anaesthetic or steroid into the joint.

What happens after surgery?

You will be prescribed some painkillers or advised which simple (over the counter) painkillers to use. The procedure will leave your jaw joint uncomfortable, and you may have a small amount of swelling in front of your ear, over the joint. This will take a couple of days to subside.

What should I eat?

Anything you feel comfortable to eat - but it wouldn't be wise to try really tough or chewy foods straight away. Over a week or two you will find that you are able to eat progressively harder or chewier foods.

When does the surgeon see me again?

Not usually for a few weeks, sometimes a month. This is to allow enough time for the initial swelling and discomfort to subside and for you to restart your exercises or get back to a more normal diet. It can take some months for any improvement in your symptoms to fully manifest.