Published November 20, 2014
Septic��or infectious arthritis��occurs when a fungal or bacterial infection causes arthritic symptoms.��The term “arthritis” describes a range of joint disorders that are primarily characterized by pain, swelling and inflammation. While the pain and swelling may be similar, septic arthritis is very different from more common forms of the disorder, such as osteoarthritis.
Bacteria can��travel throughout the bloodstream from one part of your body and infect the joint. The��bacteria may also target only the joint, which may happen if the joint is infected due to an injury or��surgery.��When these germs attack the joint tissue, you��may experience swelling and extreme pain in that joint.��While the normal wear-and-tear arthritis can appear in multiple joints all over your body, septic arthritis typically occurs in a��single joint and is frequently found in the knee and hip.
The symptoms of septic arthritis generally appear quickly, and some symptoms vary, depending on the affected individual’s age. For everyone with septic arthritis, the primary signs are usually fever and intense joint pain and swelling (usually in only one joint). The pain tends to worsen when you move the joint, or you might not be able to move the joint at all. Children might also experience decreased appetite, irritability, malaise or rapid heartbeat. In children and adults, the joint may feel warm.
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), most cases of acute, or temporary, septic arthritis are��caused by infectious bacteria, while the less common chronic arthritis is��usually caused by other microorganisms. The most common cause of septic arthritis is staphylococcus aureus — a bacteria that even healthy people often��carry on their noses and skin. Gonorrhea is another potential cause of septic arthritis. In addition to bacterial infections in your body,��some��factors can put you at��risk for developing septic arthritis. Recent joint injury��and artificial joint implants leave you susceptible to infection, as do chronic illness��and drugs that suppress the immune system.
Septic arthritis can be treated with a combination of antibiotics and joint drainage. Antibiotics combat the original infection, so doctors must diagnose the bacteria primarily causing these symptoms. Medication is usually administered intravenous but can be switched to oral doses over time. A regimen of antibiotics can take anywhere from two to six weeks.
Joint drainage can alleviate the swelling and reduce the amount of bacteria in your joint. Doctors may also use the extracted fluid as a testing sample. In some cases, doctors can use a needle to remove fluid. ��Joints may also be��drained with an arthroscopy. During arthroscopy, suction tubes are inserted into your joint through small incisions. While your joint is healing, exercise and cold compresses may help ease the pain.