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What is Septic Arthritis?

Septic arthritis also called as infectious arthritis, is characterized by joint inflammation due to a bacterial or fungal infection. Normally, fluid lubricating a joint, called synovial fluid, is aseptic in nature. But with septic arthritis, microbes can grow in the affected joint fluid and make the condition worse.

Types of Septic Arthritis

Based on the duration and severity of septic arthritis, it is categorized as:

  • Acute septic arthritis: It is more common, may develop suddenly and is considered more severe. The bacteria generally involved are staphylococcus or streptococcus.
  • Chronic septic arthritis: It is less common, develops slowly and is less severe. The involved microorganisms are mycobacterium tuberculosis and Candida Albicans.

Septic arthritis may affect individuals of any age. Children below 3 years (infants) are often affected by septic arthritis as compared to children of age 3 to adolescence. Infants generally show more infection in the hip region.

Symptoms of Septic Arthritis

The common symptoms associated with septic arthritis are:

  • Fever
  • Redness in the affected joint
  • Swelling in the joint
  • Joint pain that may get worse with movement

In severe cases, patients may not be able to move the limb of the infected joint, called as pseudo paralysis.

Diagnosis of Septic Arthritis

The diagnosis of septic arthritis includes an examination of the synovial fluid of the affected joint, blood culture, and X-rays.

Treatment for Septic Arthritis

Septic arthritis treatment includes specific antibiotics to treat the infection. Additional measures such as rest, keeping the joint motionless, elevating the joint and applying cold compresses may reduce symptoms. Certain exercises are also recommended for the recovery of the affected joint.

In cases of excessive accumulation of synovial fluid in the affected joint, it is drained through a sterile needle. In severe cases, surgery may be employed for draining the infected joint fluid.

  • Northern Light Blue Hill Hospital
  • Northern Light Maine Coast Hospital
  • Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada
  • American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
  • American Association of Hip and Knee Surgeons
  • Eastern Orthopaedic Association
  • Canadian Orthopaedic Association
  •  Orthopaedic Trauma Association