Septic Arthritis

What Is Septic Arthritis?

Septic arthritis, also known as infectious arthritis, is a type of joint infection caused by bacteria or viruses. This infection occurs when the bacterium or virus enters the joint, commonly through a wound in the skin, and results in inflammation of the joint. Symptoms of septic arthritis can include redness, warmth, swelling, and pain in the affected joint.

Risk Factors for Septic Arthritis

Septic arthritis can occur in people of any age, but is most common in very young children and elderly people. Other risk factors for septic arthritis include a compromised immune system, a joint infection or injury, and an infection elsewhere in the body.

Symptoms of Septic Arthritis

Symptoms of septic arthritis can include:

  • Redness, warmth, and swelling in the affected joint
  • Pain when moving the affected joint
  • Fever or chills
  • Fatigue
  • Joint stiffness
  • Unable to completely bend or straighten the affected joint

Diagnosing Septic Arthritis

Septic arthritis can be diagnosed by physical examination and joint fluid analysis. Your doctor may also order blood tests, imaging studies, and a culture of the joint fluid. Treatment typically involves antibiotics, rest, and controlling inflammation in the joint.

Treating Septic Arthritis

Treatment for septic arthritis typically involves antibiotics to kill the infection, rest, and controlling the inflammation of the joint. In some cases, surgery may be needed to remove infected tissue. Physical therapy may also be recommended to maintain joint strength and range of motion.

Preventing Septic Arthritis

The best way to prevent septic arthritis is to practice good hygiene. Washing and cleaning your hands often, particularly after being in contact with the body fluids of someone with an infection, is one of the easiest ways to reduce the risk of transmission.