Septic Arthritis

SEPTIC ARTHRITIS hands

Last Updated December 20th, 2021

What Is Septic Arthritis?

Arthritis is any condition involving painful inflammation of the joints. There can be many different causes of joint inflammation including autoimmune disease and age-related weakening of the joints. Sometimes an infection can give rise to arthritis. In such cases, the condition is known as septic arthritis or infectious arthritis. The pathogen responsible for the infection may be bacterial, viral or even fungal. Since infections can affect individuals of any age, nearly everyone is capable of potentially developing septic arthritis. However, some individuals are at a greater risk than others.

Arthritis makes it difficult for the patient to move the joint without feeling pain. This means that he or she may not be able to walk, stand or bend normally. As a result, the patient is unable to perform their routine, everyday tasks and may feel tired and weak. Fortunately, most such infections can be cleared up with the right kind of treatment. The sooner that this is done the greater will be the likelihood of preventing long-term damage to the joints.

 

What Causes Septic Arthritis?

SEPTIC ARTHRITIS handsSeptic arthritis is the outcome of an infection in the joints. Infections can arise in many different ways. Instances of septic arthritis caused by bacteria and viruses are common but fungal infections have also been documented as the cause. The pathogen responsible for septic arthritis may target the joints directly or it may spread to the joints from another part of the body. For instance, having an infectious disease or a localized infection in a particular part of the body raises the risk of the infection spreading to other tissues including those in the joints particularly if the original site of infection is located in proximity to a set of joints.

The most common sites to be affected are the knees and hips. Usually, the infectious agent implicated in septic arthritis is a common bacterium called Staphylococcus aureus. This bacterium is normally present on the surface of your skin and mucous membranes in areas such as the upper respiratory tract. When you are healthy, your immunity is strong enough to keep such bacteria in check. But when your skin is broken or even lightly grazed or the mucous membranes injured, these bacteria could infiltrate deeper into the body where they can give rise to infections.

There are three main scenarios in which joints can become infected:

  • Infection directly affecting the joints. This can occur following trauma that exposes bones and joints directly to contamination from the external environment. Alternatively, surgery or invasive treatment could introduce infection into the joint.
  • Pathogens present in the bloodstream. When bacteria are present in the blood, this is known as bacteremia. In such instances, blood carries the pathogens to every part of the body which means that infection could arise anywhere, including the joints.
  • Infection is already present elsewhere in the body and then spreads to joints from there.

 

What Are Some Risk Factors To Be Aware Of?

Any condition that weakens the immunity exposes the body to a greater risk of contracting infections. Infants are especially susceptible on account of their immature immunity. Similarly, very old individuals may also have a weak immune system. Other examples of those at risk include patients with severe chronic illnesses, those undergoing radiation therapy or even those with immune deficiencies.

SEPTIC ARTHRITIS xrayA more comprehensive list of potential risk factors for septic arthritis is provided below:

  • Being very young or very old.
  • Having deep or severe wounds.
  • Long-term illness such as cancer or diabetes.
  • Having an infectious disease.
  • An immune deficiency.
  • HIV infection.
  • Take immunosuppressant drugs.
  • Receiving radiation therapy or undergoing chemotherapy.
  • Regular abuse of drugs through the intravenous route.
  • Invasive treatment such as catheters, intravenous tubes or dialysis.
  • Impaired blood circulation.
  • A skin disorder that leaves the skin damaged and broken. Examples include psoriasis and eczema.
  • Infection as a complication of orthopedic or another kind of surgery.
  • Existing inflammatory disorder.
  • Having an autoimmune disease.
  • An existing problem with your joints, such as osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis.

 

What Are Some Symptoms Of Septic Arthritis?

The crucial facts to remember are that septic arthritis involves both infection and inflammation in the joints. Hence, the patient will most likely display classic symptoms of infection and inflammation. Most infections cause the immune system to respond by increasing body temperature. Pathogens like bacteria and viruses are sensitive to higher temperatures and when you develop a fever, your body is trying to disable them with heat. However, not all patients will necessarily have a high fever. This depends on the severity and extent of the infection.

Inflammation is a more localized response to infection. This causes tissues at the site of the infection, in this case, your joints, to become swollen. The swollen joints will be tender and you will notice redness at the site. Generally, there will be localized warmth as well and the pain may make it difficult for you to move the joint or use the affected limb.

Here is a more detailed list of symptoms to expect:

  • Fever.
  • Swollen joints.
  • Joint pain.
  • Redness in the affected joint.
  • Tenderness.
  • The affected joint is warmer than surrounding areas.
  • Inability to move the joint normally.

 

Should I Be Concerned About Complications?

SEPTIC ARTHRITIS jointsSince the root cause of septic arthritis is an infection, there is always the risk of the infection spreading to other tissues. Some potential critical outcomes are discussed below:

  • Permanent damage to the tissues of the joint, leading to loss of function and range of movement.
  • Fibrous ankylosis. This causes the joints to become permanently stiff, inflexible and immobile as a result of the toughening of fibrous connective tissue.
  • Osteomyelitis or infection of the tissue in bones forming the joint.
  • Abscess. This is a localized collection of pus within the body.
  • One of the worst possible scenarios is that of sepsis, a condition in which the immune system overreacts to an infection and triggers widespread inflammation which can lead to organ failure, hypovolemic shock, and death.

 

How Is Septic Arthritis Diagnosed?

The combination of joint pain, fever, and symptoms suggesting joint inflammation should help your doctor ascertain the nature of the problem to a certain extent. Septic arthritis is frequently accompanied by some amount of damage to the joints as a result of the inflammation. In order to assess the extent of the damage and determine the identity of the pathogen responsible for the infection, you may need to undergo laboratory tests and diagnostic imaging tests. The following procedures may be involved:

  • Physical examination.
  • Medical history.
  • Blood tests.
  • Laboratory analysis of the joint fluid.
  • X-rays.

 

What Treatments Are Available?

The treatment for septic arthritis comprises of two steps:

Joint drainage– The infected synovial fluid (joint fluid) is removed. This can be done by:

  • Needle– infected fluid can be withdrawn by inserting a needle in the joint space.
  • Arthroscopy– A flexible tube with several tools and a video camera is inserted into the joint space through a small incision. Suction and drainage tubes are inserted in order to withdraw the infected fluid.

Surgery– In some cases (which do not have proper access to a needle or arthroscopy), open surgery has to be performed in order to drain the infected fluid.

Antibiotics– The antibiotics are prescribed based on the infectious agent causing the condition. The treatment can go on for around 2 to 6 weeks. Medications can have side effects such as diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting.

Prevention of the disease is mainly by taking precautions such as- antibiotic cover during invasive procedures, regular examination of joint and surrounding skin to look for signs of infection, proper care while injecting into joint space and having a healthy immune system.

 
 

 

Dos and Don'ts

Dos
  • Be active. Regular physical activity can help in reducing pain and improve physical function by 40%.
  • Seek rapid medical attention. Any delay in the treatment might have detrimental effects on the joint and cause permanent damage.
  • Consult your doctor in case you have a low immunity or if you are on immunosuppressant medications (such as medications for rheumatoid arthritis). These conditions make you prone to septic arthritis.
Don'ts
  • Ignore symptoms such as joint stiffness, painful and swollen joints, fever, chills, fatigue, skin rash, sore throat etc.
  • Neglect sanitization while injecting medications into the joint.
  • Miss your follow-up sessions after getting a prosthetic joint. Individuals with a prosthetic joint are highly susceptible to septic arthritis.

 

 

 

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Amylase Test Amylase test is done by checking the level of this protein in the blood sample and also in…
sodium chloride
Halotherapy: How inhaling salt can work wonders for your body Halotherapy is quickly gaining popularity amongst those with respiratory diseases. It has shown promise in its treatment.
CT-scan-machine
CT – Computed Tomography Scan CT scan or computed tomography scan is an diagnostic imaging technique where cross-sectional images of body are obtained…
kidney stones
Kidney stones Kidney stones are solid substances made up of crystals. They can be of various sizes. Treatment depend on…
Trisodium Phosphate: How a paint thinner made its way into your breakfast Ever thought how toxic chemicals find their way into our foods? How can they harm our body? And…
ureteroscopy
Ureteroscopy Ureteroscopy is the diagnostic procedure which is used for the detection of the kidney stones in addition to…
Rubella IgM test
Rubella IgM Test The Rubella IgM test is a blood test that is performed to diagnose the presence of the rubella…
lp-pla2
LP-PLA2 Test The LP-PLA2 test is a test which is carried out to assess the levels of Lipoprotein-Associated Phospholipase A2…
shiitake mushrooms healthy
What are Shiitake Mushrooms and why should you eat them? Shiitake Mushrooms are well known for their smoky and robust taste. However, did you know they are replete…
gallbladder diet tomato
Gallbladder surgery :Tips on post-operative care and diet What to eat post a gallbladder surgery? What are the key things to avoid if you had a…
beta hcg test
Beta hCG Test A Beta hCG test measures the level of human gonadotropin hormones present in the blood that is primarliy…
GM Diet: The fastest way to lose weight or yet another hoax diet? General Motors started this trend of extreme dieting for 7 straight days to ensure its employees were able…
Tart Cherry: The healthiest excuse for taking that second serving of pie Tart cherry has been traditionally used in delectable desserts such as pies. Recent studies have revealed that its…
yoga health benefits
How to practice yoga for astounding health benefits Can a 5000-year-old system be the ultimate body healer? Did you know yoga can make you smarter and…
Vitamin b12
Vitamin B12 Test Vitamin b12 is an essential nutrient required for healthy functioning of the nervous system and also development of…
Chlorella: Therapeutic powers of the billion-year-old algae now within your reach Chlorella - A billion year old nutrient-rich algae that can potentially ward off cancers and high cholesterol; the…
Chest X-Ray A chest x-ray is a diagnostic test that uses x-rays to visualize the structures inside your chest. It…
social media adddiction
Your health in the age of Social Media: Why is digital detox a necessity? Did you know that more than 400 million people are dangerously addicted to social media? Are you one…
hepatitis B envelope antigen
Hepatitis B Envelope Antigen (HBeAg) The HBeAg or hepatitis B envelope antigen test is a screening test used to diagnose the onset of…
Exercises or diet? Find out the healthiest way to gain weight Tired of being called skinny all the time? Looking for healthy ways to beef up? Why not try…
blood elements analysis
Vitamin Profile Your doctor will recommend you undergo the vitamin profile test if you are showing signs of either vitamin…
woman with abdominal pain holding ovulation calendar
Ovulation – facts to know about ovulation Learn how and when ovulation occurs, demystify common misconceptions, identify symptoms, methods of detection and right period for…
beta 2 glycoprotein 1 igm
Beta 2 Glycoprotein 1 IgM The Beta 2 glycoprotein 1 IgM test detects IgM class of antibodies in the blood.The presence of beta-2…
beta alanine energy powder
Beta-alanine: A powerhouse of proteins to charge up your workout How can a simple amino acid be a crucial health supplement for champion athletes? Find out how you…
fitness routine fun
10 fantastic ways to make your fitness routine more fun! Are you too bored to exercise? Do you avoid gym cause it's too monotonous? Looking for fun and…
apolipoprotein a1 test
Apolipoprotein -A1 (APO-A1) Test Apolipoprotein A-I (Apo-A1) constitutes 70% of protein content in high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and helps in lipid metabolism.
Low fat diets
A complete list of low-fat diets and how to follow them Low-fat diets help you lose weight in a healthy way, but it works only with regular exercise and…
Mood swings
The real reasons for your mood swings and how to overcome them Are you prone to heated moods frequently? Do you also feel bouts of depressive feeling creeping up on…
anti-chlamydia antibody tets
Anti-Chlamydia Antibody -IgG Test Anti-Chlamydia Antibody - IgG test is performed by collection of urine or genital fluids as sample for testing…
Find all the instant ways to get rid of blackheads Blackheads - Not only are they aesthetically unappealing but if left untreated these can cause bacterial overgrowth on…
vital organ diseases
Common diseases that could cripple your vital organs Brain, heart, kidney, lungs, and liver - these vital organs are indeed vital for your survival. However, these…
antiHEV IgM test
Anti hepatitis E virus (Anti HEV) IgM Test Anti HEV IgM test determines the level of the IgM antibodies in the blood, The disease is often…
Creatine: Is this the right peak athletic-performance supplement for you? Creatine is the amino acid that boosts our energy. Did you know creatine supplements can help you reach…
Bloodtestalbumin
Albumin Test Albumin test or blood serum test is a liver function test that measures the amount of the protein…
GERD heartburn
Heartburn: What are the exact symptoms and the best home remedies? There are easy home remedies for heartburn, which not only acts as a first aid when you experience…
Balneotherapy jacuzzi
5 things you didn’t know about balneotherapy and how you can do it at home Sauna baths have been popular since a long time. But how much more beneficial can balneotherapy be as…
eating disorder anorexia
Eating Disorders: Lifestyle choice or a psychological condition? Is eating disorder just a harmless bad habit? Or does it represent grim psychological disorders? Do you want…
hidden causes obesity
8 hidden causes of obesity you probably didn’t know! Did you know that around 2 billion people worldwide are either overweight or obese? Are you too a…
myelogram
Myelography Myelography is an important diagnostic tool that is used to investigate and identify abnormalities in the spine and…
tonometry
Tonometry Tonometry uses a device called tonometer to measure the pressure inside the eye. This pressure is depends upon…

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