Osteoarticular Infections

Overview of Osteoarticular Infections

Osteoarticular infections refer to a range of illnesses caused by the presence of bacteria, viruses, or fungi in the joints and surrounding tissue. These infections can be either acute, meaning sudden and short-term, or chronic, meaning recurring and longer lasting. Symptoms of an osteoarticular infection may include redness, warmth, and swelling, as well as pain. Joint pain and tenderness are common, and significant joint deformity may develop over time.

Types of Osteoarticular Infections

Osteoarticular infections can be divided into two major categories: septic arthritis and osteomyelitis. Septic arthritis is an infection in the joint space caused by bacteria, viruses, or fungi. The most common type is caused by the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus. Symptoms of septic arthritis can include redness, swelling, warmth, and joint pain. Osteomyelitis is an infection in the bone caused by the same organisms as those that cause septic arthritis. Symptoms of osteomyelitis include redness, pain, and swelling.

Causes of Osteoarticular Infections

The most common cause of osteoarticular infections is bacteria, although viruses and fungi can also be responsible. Bacteria, such as Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Escherichia coli, are the most common causes of both septic arthritis and osteomyelitis.

Risk factors for developing an osteoarticular infection include open wounds, intravenous drug use, immunodeficiency, and diabetes. In addition, people with certain types of medical devices, such as joint replacements and intravascular catheters, are at increased risk of developing an infection.

Diagnosis of Osteoarticular Infections

Osteoarticular infections are usually diagnosed by taking a detailed medical history, performing a physical exam, and ordering blood tests, imaging tests, or a joint fluid culture. A joint fluid culture is a test that involves drawing fluid from a joint and testing it for the presence of bacteria, viruses, or fungi.

Treatment of Osteoarticular Infections

Treatment for osteoarticular infections depends on the type and severity of the infection. Treatment generally involves antibiotics to kill any bacteria present and may also include pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medications. Surgery may be required in some cases to remove any damaged tissue or to implant a device such as a drain or a joint prosthesis.

Prevention of Osteoarticular Infections

The best way to prevent osteoarticular infections is to practice good hygiene, such as washing your hands regularly and keeping cuts clean and covered. In addition, people who have diabetes or other immune system conditions should pay close attention to any changes in their condition.

People who have certain types of medical devices, such as joint replacements, should be extra vigilant about their hygiene habits, as these devices can increase the risk of infection. It is also important to practice safe sex to reduce the risk of sexually-transmitted infections, which can cause osteoarticular infections.

Tips for Living With Osteoarticular Infections

  • Follow your doctor’s instructions and prescribed medications.
  • Practice good hygiene habits, including frequent handwashing.
  • Keep cuts and scrapes clean and covered.
  • Pay attention to any changes in your condition.
  • Get plenty of rest.
  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet.
  • If you smoke, try to quit.
  • Practice safe sex.