JOINT INFECTION (Septic Arthritis)

SEPTIC ARTHRITIS (Joint Infection)

Septic arthritis, also known as infectious arthritis, bacterial, or fungal arthritis, is the painful inflammation of a joint resulting from bacterial infection. Septic arthritis is usually caused by the spread of harmful bacteria through the bloodstream which may have entered the body through the skin, eyes, ears, mouth, nose, and mucous membranes. It can also be the result of a bacterial infection from an untreated wound or an opening from a surgical procedure.

Septic arthritis will typically affect one large joint in the body – the knee or hip for instance. In some cases, however, septic arthritis can affect multiple joints simultaneously. Symptoms include significant pain, swelling, fever, redness, and loss of movement. Early detection and medical care typically results in full recovery, but if left untreated, septic arthritis can severely damage the cartilage and bone within a joint, leading to joint disability and, in rare cases, septic shock.

Common Treatments and Procedures

Treatment involves a course of powerful antibiotics – initially administered intravenously to stop the spread of the infection, then, depending upon the severity of the case, an oral antibiotic may be prescribed.

A procedure known as arthrocentesis is commonly used to accurately confirm the diagnosis of septic arthritis. In this procedure, your doctor will puncture the joint with a needle and syringe to draw a sample of synovial fluid (a sterile liquid that acts as a joint lubricant) to test it for infection. Once diagnosis is confirmed, arthrocentesis or arthroscopy can be used to remove any infected tissue and drain excess fluid from the joint to help to reduce pressure and eliminate harmful bacteria.