Septic Arthritis
(Infectious Arthritis)

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Septic arthritis facts

  • Septic arthritis is infection of one or more joints by microorganisms.
  • Septic arthritis can be caused by bacteria, viruses, and fungi.
  • Risks for the development of septic arthritis include taking immune-suppression medicines, intravenous drug abuse, past joint disease, injury or surgery, and underlying medical illnesses, including diabetes, alcoholism, sickle cell disease, rheumatic diseases, and immune deficiency disorders.
  • Symptoms of septic arthritis include fever, chills, as well as joint pain, swelling, redness, stiffness, and warmth.
  • Septic arthritis is diagnosed by identifying infected joint fluid.
  • Septic arthritis is treated with antibiotics and drainage of the infected joint fluid from the joint.

What is septic arthritis?

Septic, or infectious, arthritis is infection of one or more joints by microorganisms. Normally, the joint is lubricated with a small amount of fluid that is referred to as synovial fluid or joint fluid. The normal joint fluid is sterile and, if removed and cultured in the laboratory, no microbes will be detected. With septic arthritis, microbes are identifiable in an affected joint fluid.

Most commonly, septic arthritis affects a single joint, but occasionally more joints are involved. The joints affected vary somewhat depending on the microbe causing the infection and the predisposing risk factors of the person affected. Septic arthritis is also called infectious arthritis.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 1/22/2014

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