What is septic arthritis?
Septic arthritis, also commonly known as infectious arthritis, is
unlike other forms of arthritis because it is caused by an infection
present in the synovial fluid surrounding your joints. The infection
can be caused by a virus, fungi, or, most commonly, bacteria, and
is commonly seen in patients who have prosthetic joints. However,
because of the dangerous nature of bacterial infections, this type
of arthritis can affect anyone at any time. Septic arthritis is
a serious infection that needs to be contained immediately. If septic
arthritis is left untreated, the joint may undergo permanent damage,
and, in the worst case scenario, the infection could spread and
eventually lead to death.
Symptoms of septic arthritis:
The most commonly infected joints are the larger joints of the body
where the most synovial fluid is present, including the knees, hips,
ankles, and elbows. However, if you have any of the possible risk
factors, it is possible to develop septic arthritis at any joint
within your body.
The most common symptoms of septic arthritis are:
Acute joint pain
Redness of the joint area
Warm sensation at the joint area
Who is at risk for septic arthritis?
Because septic arthritis is caused by an infection, the most commonly
at-risk group is anyone who can be classified as immune-suppressed
or, because of the inherent high risk, anyone with a prosthetic
joint. Some of the most common cases are seen in intravenous drug
users, patients with past joint injuries or diseases, diabetics,
or anyone who is taking medication that can affect the immune system.
All of these types of patients are considered high risk for developing
this condition; however, this is an infection and therefore it has
no boundaries. If you suspect you might have septic arthritis, you
need to seek medical attention immediately.
Treatment of septic arthritis:
If your physician suspects you have septic arthritis, then he or
she may take a sample of the synovial fluid surrounding the joint
in order to determine what type of infection is present, if any.
The synovial fluid test will let the physician know what types of
antibiotics are needed in order to treat the infection. Depending
on the level of infection, the treatment will most likely involve
a combination of antibiotics and regular draining of fluid from
If you suspect that you may have any of the symptoms of septic arthritis,
it is imperative to seek medical attention as soon as possible in
order to prevent the infection from spreading and to protect the
integrity of the joint.