St. Luke's Hospital
Main Number: 314-434-1500 Emergency Dept: 314-205-6990 Patient Billing: 888-924-9200
Find a Physician Payment Options Locations & Directions
Follow us on: facebook twitter Mobile Email Page Email Page Print Page Print Page Increase Font Size Decrease Font Size Font Size
America's 50 Best Hospitals
Meet the Doctor
Spirit of Women
Community Health Needs Assessment
Home > Health Information

Multimedia Encyclopedia

    Print-Friendly
    Bookmarks

    Septic arthritis

    Bacterial arthritis; Non-gonococcal bacterial arthritis

    Septic arthritis is inflammation of a joint due to a bacterial or fungal infection. Septic arthritis that is due to the bacteria that cause gonorrhea has different symptoms.

    Causes

    Septic arthritis develops when bacteria or other tiny disease-causing organisms (microorganisms) spread through the bloodstream to a joint. It may also occur when the joint is directly infected with a microorganism from an injury or during surgery. The most common sites for this type of infection are the knee and hip.

    Most cases of acute septic arthritis are caused by bacteria such as staphylococcus or streptococcus.

    Chronic septic arthritis (which is less common) is caused by organisms such as Mycobacterium tuberculosis and Candida albicans.

    The following conditions increase your risk for septic arthritis:

    • Artificial joint implants
    • Bacterial infection somewhere else in your body
    • Chronic illness or disease (such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and sickle cell disease)
    • Intravenous (IV) or injection drug use
    • Medications that suppress your immune system
    • Recent joint injury
    • Recent joint arthroscopy or other surgery

    Septic arthritis may be seen at any age. In children, it occurs most often in those younger than 3 years. The hip is often the site of infection in infants.

    Septic arthritis is uncommon from age 3 to adolescence. Children with septic arthritis are more likely than adults to be infected with Group B streptococcus or Haemophilus influenza, if they have not been vaccinated.

    Symptoms

    Symptoms usually come on quickly. There is a fever, and joint swelling that is usually in just one joint. There is also intense joint pain, which gets worse with movement.

    Symptoms in newborns or infants:

    • Cries when infected joint is moved (example: diaper change causes crying if hip joint is infected)
    • Fever
    • Inability to move the limb with the infected joint (pseudoparalysis)
    • Irritability

    Symptoms in children and adults:

    • Inability to move the limb with the infected joint (pseudoparalysis)
    • Intense joint pain
    • Joint swelling
    • Joint redness
    • Low fever

    Chills may occur, but are uncommon.

    Exams and Tests

    • Aspiration of joint fluid for cell count, examination of crystals under the microscope, gram stain, and culture
    • Blood culture
    • X-ray of affected joint

    Treatment

    Antibiotics are used to treat the infection.

    Resting, keeping the joint still, raising the joint, and using cool compresses may help relieve pain. Exercising the affected joint helps the recovery process.

    If joint (synovial) fluid builds up quickly due to the infection, a needle may be inserted into the joint often to aspirate the fluid. Severe cases may need surgery to drain the infected joint fluid.

    Outlook (Prognosis)

    Recovery is good with prompt antibiotic treatment. If treatment is delayed, permanent joint damage may result.

    Possible Complications

    • Joint degeneration (arthritis)

    When to Contact a Medical Professional

    Call for an appointment with your health care provider if you develop symptoms of septic arthritis.

    Prevention

    Preventive (prophylactic) antibiotics may be helpful for people at high risk.

    References

    Espinoza LR. Infections of bursae, joints, and bones. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 290.

    Ohl CA. Infectious arthritis of native joints. In: Mandell GL, Bennett JE, Dolin R, eds. Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett's Principles and Practice of Infectious Disease. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2009:chap 102.

    BACK TO TOP

          A Closer Look

            Talking to your MD

              Self Care

                Tests for Septic arthritis

                  Review Date: 6/9/2011

                  Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine; Jatin M. Vyas, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor in Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Assistant in Medicine, Division of Infectious Disease, Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

                  The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
                  adam.com

                  A.D.A.M. content is best viewed in IE9 or above, Fire Fox and chrome browser.


                  Back  |  Top
                  About Us
                  Contact Us
                  History
                  Mission
                  Locations & Directions
                  Quality Reports
                  Annual Reports
                  Honors & Awards
                  Community Health Needs
                  Assessment

                  Newsroom
                  Services
                  Brain & Spine
                  Cancer
                  Heart
                  Maternity
                  Orthopedics
                  Pulmonary
                  Sleep Medicine
                  Urgent Care
                  Women's Services
                  All Services
                  Patients & Visitors
                  Locations & Directions
                  Find a Physician
                  Tour St. Luke's
                  Patient & Visitor Information
                  Contact Us
                  Payment Options
                  Financial Assistance
                  Send a Card
                  Mammogram Appointments
                  Health Tools
                  My Personal Health
                  mystlukes
                  Spirit of Women
                  Health Information & Tools
                  Clinical Trials
                  Health Risk Assessments
                  Employer Programs -
                  Passport to Wellness

                  Classes & Events
                  Classes & Events
                  Spirit of Women
                  Donate & Volunteer
                  Giving Opportunities
                  Volunteer
                  Physicians & Employees
                  For Physicians
                  Remote Access
                  Medical Residency Information
                  Pharmacy Residency Information
                  Physician CPOE Training
                  Careers
                  Careers
                  St. Luke's Hospital - 232 South Woods Mill Road - Chesterfield, MO 63017 Main Number: 314-434-1500 Emergency Dept: 314-205-6990 Patient Billing: 888-924-9200
                  Copyright © St. Luke's Hospital Website Terms and Conditions  |  Privacy Policy  |  Patient Notice of Privacy Policies PDF Sitemap St. Luke's Mobile