Safety of Joint and Soft Tissue Injections in Patients on Warfarin Anticoagulation

Clin Rheumatol. 2013 Dec;32(12):1811-4. doi: 10.1007/s10067-013-2350-z. Epub 2013 Aug 8.


Performance of joint and soft tissue injections in patients receiving anticoagulation is subject to different protocols, some of which suggest continuing treatment within the therapeutic range, while others recommend stopping the treatment prior to procedures. The aim of this study was to evaluate the safety of two approaches to the management of patients prescribed warfarin requiring joint or soft tissue injection. A systematic literature review on this subject was undertaken. Our departmental protocol was changed from one where anticoagulation treatment was temporarily stopped prior to joint/soft tissue injection to one where treatment was continued in the context of a therapeutic international normalised ratio (INR) level within 24 h of the procedure. In patients in whom warfarin was withheld, 32 procedures were performed in 18 patients (13 rheumatoid arthritis, 11 osteoarthritis, 5 spondyloarthritis and 1 each of adhesive capsulitis, rotator cuff tendinopathy and trochanteric bursitis). Of these, 30 were joint injections and 2 were soft tissue injections. In patients who continued warfarin, 32 procedures were performed in 21 patients (11 rheumatoid arthritis, 7 osteoarthritis, 6 crystal arthritis, 4 rotator cuff tendinopathy, 2 spondyloarthritis and 1 each of adhesive capsulitis and carpal tunnel syndrome). Of these, 27 were joint injections and 5 were soft tissue injections. There were no clinical hemarthroses or complications in either group. Joint and soft tissue injections appear to be safe in patients receiving warfarin anticoagulation with an INR <3. Continuation of anticoagulants reduces staff workload and patient inconvenience with no evidence of increased risk of complications.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Anticoagulants / administration & dosage*
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / drug therapy
  • Bursitis / drug therapy
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome / drug therapy
  • Cohort Studies
  • Elbow Joint / pathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Injections, Intra-Articular
  • International Normalized Ratio
  • Knee Joint / pathology*
  • Male
  • Osteoarthritis / drug therapy
  • Prospective Studies
  • Rheumatology
  • Shoulder Joint / pathology*
  • Spondylarthritis / drug therapy
  • Warfarin / administration & dosage*


  • Anticoagulants
  • Warfarin