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What to know about infectious (septic) arthritis



What to know about infectious (septic) arthritis

What to know about infectious (septic) arthritis

Infectious arthritis, also known as septic arthritis, involves sudden and severe joint disease. It is an arthritis that causes swelling, pain and tissue damage.

Arthritis usually affects only one joint, but it can spread. Therefore, it is important to diagnose and treat as soon as possible to prevent serious joint damage and the spread of disease.

This article examines the symptoms, causes, treatment and recovery process. It also explains the difference between inflammatory and reactive arthritis.

What is septic arthritis?

Infectious arthritis occurs when bacteria, fungi, or viruses invade the joints and cause inflammation. It comes on suddenly and causes pain, fever and chills.

The immune system normally clears these harmful bacteria, but when they enter confined spaces such as joints, they multiply rapidly and cause severe inflammation and tissue damage. the body.

Spread and impact

Although the name is misleading, rheumatoid arthritis is not contagious. However, it is very bad.


Research shows that one in three people suffer from arthritis. According to reliable sources, 7-15% of patients in the hospital die.

This condition usually affects adults and children. People with dysfunctional joints or health problems that weaken the immune system are also more susceptible to the disease. For example, this includes people with diabetes and people taking immunosuppressants.

Infectious arthritis may disproportionately affect historically disadvantaged groups, possibly due to differences in access to and quality of care.

For example, studies show that historically conservative people have a higher risk of diabetes than white people. Meanwhile, other studies have shown that neurological diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis are more likely to lead to amputations in Hispanics and non-Hispanic blacks.

Causes of arthritis

The most common cause of arthritis or septic arthritis is bacterial, fungal or bacterial infection in the space around the joint.


Bacterial infections are the most common cause of arthritis. A 2019 study found that bacteria in the Staphylococcus family cause more than half of septic arthritis. This type of virus can also cause many skin problems.

Other causes of arthritis include Streptococcus species, which causes strep, and Neisseria gonorrhoeae, which causes gonorrhea.

Bacteria often enter the joint through the blood.

Joint surgery or cuts, wounds, or cuts to the joint increase the risk of infection, which can lead to arthritis.

A weakened immune system or a history of other joint problems such as gout, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus or osteoarthritis increases your risk because damaged joints are more likely to develop. infection.


Signs and symptoms of septic arthritis

Arthritis causes severe inflammation that damages the joint tissue. It causes permanent damage to cartilage and bone.

Like other types of arthritis, the main symptoms are swelling, pain and stiffness in the affected joint. Other signs and symptoms of septic arthritis include:

The pain is worse than arthritis pain that does not affect it

The range of motion is limited in the affected joint

Swelling around the affected joint

  • fever
  • tired
  • Not strong
  • Change of appetite
  • Itching blood
  • hives

This condition can affect any number of joints, but the most common is arthritis of the knee.

Septic arthritis can affect other joints, including:

  • shoulder
  • foot
  • knee

Once the disease begins, symptoms may appear and worsen, sometimes within hours. People may experience other symptoms depending on the cause of the disease.

Risk factors for septic arthritis

Anyone can develop arthritis, but certain factors increase the risk, including:

Existing joint diseases, such as arthritis, gout, lupus or osteoarthritis

  • Joint damage
  • Final joint work
  • Skin disease
  • Use of intravenous (IV) drugs.
  • Beautiful beauty
  • Antibiotics are long-lasting

Also, anyone exposed to bacteria in the joints is at risk of developing the disease. This includes animals that have pulled their joints, people with artificial joints or people who have had joint surgery.

Treatment of arthritis

Treatment options for septic arthritis vary depending on the pathogen causing the disease.


Since the infection can get serious quickly, doctors prescribe antibiotics as soon as an infection is suspected. This can happen before the joint fluid test can identify the specific bacteria involved.


In the first step of treating an infection, health professionals often use antibiotics directly into the person’s bloodstream.

If antibiotics are effective, symptoms may improve within 48 hours. However, depending on the severity of the infection, a person may need IV antibiotics for 2 to 4 weeks. Doctors usually prescribe IV virus at home.

They may then give oral contraceptives for another 2-6 weeks.

Antifungal medicine

If the infection is caused by a fungus, the doctor will treat it with an antifungal medicine instead of antibiotics.

Antiviral medicine

Many causes of arthritis are self-limiting, meaning that the disease goes away over time. However, doctors may use antiviral drugs in some cases, such as when the hepatitis C virus is involved.


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Doctors can drain fluid from the affected joint to remove harmful bacteria and irritants from the body. They can do this using a syringe or a procedure called arthroscopy.

Do the exercises

People with arthritis can receive physical therapy to help reduce symptoms and maintain a range of motion in the joints. Doctors may also recommend using a splint to support the injured joint.

For people with sprains, a variety of exercises are important to prevent joint muscle wasting. At the same time, one should not continue to use the drug.

Complications of septic arthritis

If a person does not receive prompt and effective treatment, infectious arthritis can cause permanent damage to the tissues and bones of the joints.

The impact of this injury on daily life depends on the affected joint. For example, damage to the knee joint can affect the ability to stand or walk.


Arthritis can also occur with osteomyelitis, which is an infection of the bones.

Diagnosis of arthritis

It is important to detect infectious arthritis as soon as possible. First, the doctor performs a physical examination and shares a report on the patient’s health.

This alone does not provide doctors with enough information to distinguish inflammatory arthritis from many other inflammatory conditions, so if inflammatory arthritis is suspected, they will recommend another review.

These tests may require blood and fluid from the affected joint. Clinical Review 2018, a trusted source, reported joint fluid testing as the diagnostic gold standard for rheumatoid arthritis.

Doctors may also recommend imaging tests such as X-rays or MRIs to determine the extent of damage the disease has caused.



Infectious arthritis is a serious disease that can cause permanent bone and tissue damage. Infections are usually caused by bacteria, although viral and fungal infections can also cause it.

A person with inflammatory arthritis may experience sudden swelling, severe pain, nausea, and fatigue.

Early and aggressive treatment with IV antibiotics can improve a person’s prognosis for arthritis. If treatment is started early, a person can make a full recovery without permanent damage.

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