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Arthrocentesis Post Op Instructions

You have undergone a procedure known as arthrocentesis in which two needles are inserted through the skin into the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) space.  Sterile fluid is then injected into the joint space to break up adhesions and cleanse the joint.  

What to expect after the procedure:


1.  Immediately after the procedure you can expect to have pain in the front of the ear resembling a dull ache.  This may increase for the first 2-3 days and then gradually decrease over the next few days.  This can be alleviated by taking pain medications such as ibuprofen and tylenol.

2.  You may also have mild to moderate swelling in front of the ear.  Swelling may increase for up to 72 hours after the procedure and then gradually begin to decrease.  

3.  Often a squishing sound is heard in the ear.  This is normal and is due to fluid remaining within the joint space.  This will resolve within a few days.

4.  The way your teeth bite together may feel differently for a few days.  This will resolve as the swelling goes down.

5.  You may have some inability to raise your eyebrow or completely close your eye on the side of the procedure.  This is temporary and will correct as the local anesthetic wears off.

6.  Rarely, bruising may occur in front of the ear and may not appear for several days.  This will gradually resolve as any other bruise.  

What to do after the procedure to maximize your results:

The goals of the procedure are to decrease pain and increase mouth opening.  Please note that the maximum benefit from the procedure is often not seen until 2-3 weeks after the procedure.  

1.  Continue the same diet you were on prior to the procedure.  

2.  Most importantly, you should perform aggressive range of motion exercises.  This is accomplished by opening and closing the jaw.  Open as widely as possible.  Also open widely and move the jaw side to side.  Do these exercises every 30 minutes for 2 minutes while you are awake.  Experiencing increased pain during these exercises is normal.  

Sedation patients:

  • You can expect to be tired, sleepy, and forgetful on the day of surgery

  • Some people may repeat conversations or feel emotional

  • You should have a family member or friend with you for at least 8 hours after surgery because you may be unsteady on your feet

  • You should rest for the remainder of the day after sedation.  You should not be difficult to arouse

  • Do not drive, drink alcohol, operate machinery, attend children or attempt activities that require an alert mind for at least 24 hours after sedation

Please notify us immediately for redness, warmth and/or increased swelling and pain over the procedure site after the first 72 hours.  

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