Septic arthritis: symptoms and causes

Septic arthritis or infectious arthritis, As the name indicates, it consists of inflammation of a joint due to an infection that can be of fungal or bacterial origin.

In fact, infections can cause arthritis, either directly or indirectly. When it’s directly, the infectious agent is in the joint. However, in most cases, the infection starts in another area of ​​the body but travels through the bloodstream to the joint that is most affected.

This condition can cause serious consequences to the joint if not treated properly. In this article we will explain to you so that you are more attentive and know when it is time to go to the doctor for a checkup. Read on to learn more!

Causes of septic arthritis

Resistant organisms: MRSA infection

Septic arthritis occurs when certain pathogenic organisms (bacteria or fungi) gain access to the joint.

As indicated a recent study“gram-positive bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus)implicated in over 50% of cases, followed by gender strep (15-20%) and Gram-negative bacteria”.

As we have already mentioned, the most common is that they are accessed through the bloodstream. However, it may happen that the joint is directly affected. This can occur due to an injury or surgery.

Second Medline Plus datathere are a number of situations that increase the risk of suffering from it:

  • Arthroscopy.
  • trauma.
  • People who use intravenous drugs.
  • bacteraemia: is the presence of bacteria in the blood.
  • Joint surgery, for example, to implant prostheses.
  • Bacterial infection elsewhere in the body, such as gonorrhea.
  • Skin diseases. Psoriasis and eczema increase your risk.
  • Chronic diseases, such as diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis. The drugs used to treat it can suppress the immune system. Therefore, they tend to cause infections.

It is important to note that most cases are caused by bacteria. Staphylococci and streptococci stand out. It can be seen at any age. However, it occurs more often in newborns. Mostly, the hip or knee is affected.


Septic arthritis symptoms and causes

Symptoms vary depending on the type of infectionbut in general, they usually come on quickly and are usually accompanied by fever, chills, and generalized joint pain.

Fungal infections occur with the following:

  • In the child, crying occurs when the joint moves, fever and irritability.
  • feverish
  • Chills that make you tremble.
  • pseudoparalysis.
  • Severe joint pain (generalized or in a single joint).
  • Redness and inflammation.

Bacterial infections usually only affect one joint. They typically occur in the knee or hip. Therefore, any movement of said joint is very painful.


If you experience all of the above symptoms, you should seek medical attention. Once there, your doctor will conduct an interview to evaluate your medical history. Additionally, they will perform a complete physical exam.

Specific symptoms can guide the diagnosis. For example, arthritis due to a gonococcal infection often also presents with genital discharge. As, Finding out if the patient has had another recent infection will be crucial for the doctor.

Then, your doctor will order a blood test. He might also take fluid samples from your joints. In this type of study, a microscopic analysis and culture is performed. This way you can determine if there is an infection and identify the bacteria if so.

On the other hand, your doctor may order an X-ray of the affected joint. X-rays and other imaging tests can help assess damage and refine diagnostic details.

Treatment of septic arthritis

Knee arthroscopy.
Arthroscopy is a minimal intervention that reduces risks and avoids open surgery.
  • To treat septic arthritis, the joint is usually drained.. If it is a bacterial infection, antibiotic drugs are used.
  • To choose the antibiotic it is necessary to know which bacterium is causing the infection. Once known, they can be administered orally or intravenously.
  • At all times, the patient’s age and medical history should be taken into consideration. When it comes to a viral infection, they are usually not given specific treatments.
  • Rest and cold packs are recommended for pain relief. As for medications, anti-inflammatories and analgesics are usually prescribed.

How is the joint drained?

A needle is inserted into the synovial space to drain the joint. It can be performed by arthroscopy or open surgery. In the case of the hip, it is more difficult to do the needle procedure. For this reason, surgery is often used.

In short, It is important to know that septic arthritis most frequently affects infants and immunosuppressed people. Therefore, you must be even more vigilant in these conditions. It is essential to consult a doctor if the joint hurts or is inflamed. Under no circumstances should pain or other discomfort be endured.

The post Septic Arthritis: Symptoms and Causes first appeared in research-school.



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