Septic arthritis – What is it about?

Septic arthritis, also known as infectious arthritis, may represent a direct invasion of joint space by various microorganisms, most commonly caused by bacteria, from an infected cut or wound. The bacteria travels through the blood supply to a joint, which then becomes infected. Bacteria are the most significant pathogens in septic arthritis because of their rapidly destructive nature. However, viruses, mycobacteria, and fungi have been implicated. These can get into your body through the site of an injection or surgery.

Any joint in the body can be affected by septic arthritis. It can affect more than one joint, though this is rare. It most commonly affects the knees and hips. If you’re diagnosed with septic arthritis, the infection needs to be treated as soon as possible to prevent it causing long-term damage and other complications to your general health.


– Sudden severe pain in one or more of your joints

-Difficulty to move or put weight on the affected joint

-Joints getting suddenly very sore and swollen

-Skin over the joints becomes red and hot

-High temperature or fever

Children become irritable and may cry when the affected joint is moved. They may try to avoid moving it or may not be able to walk, particularly if it’s their hip that’s affected.

In most cases the symptoms develop within a few days.

Who is at risk of developing septic arthritis?

While joint infection occasionally affects people with no known predisposing risk factors, it more commonly occurs when certain risk situations are present. arthritis/article.htm

Risks for the development of septic arthritis include those:

-Taking medications that suppress the immune system

-Intravenous drug abuse

-with past joint disease, injury, or surgery

-with underlying medical conditions and diseases including diabetes, alcoholism, sickle cell disease, rheumatic diseases (for example, rheumatoid arthritis), and immune deficiency disorders.

-with a weakened immune system

-who have recently had joint surgery

-who have an artificial joint, such as a knee or hip replacement

-with gonorrhoea, which is a sexually transmitted infection

Treatment for septic arthritis

Infectious arthritis is a very treatable condition if it’s treated early and aggressively. You’ll most likely see an improvement in your symptoms within 48 hours of starting treatment. Untreated infectious arthritis can cause permanent joint damage.

If doctors think you have symptoms of septic arthritis:

-you’ll usually be treated in hospital with antibiotics given straight into a vein

-fluid may be drained from the affected joint

-you’ll probably have to take antibiotic tablets for several weeks after you leave hospital

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