Septic Arthritis (Infectious Arthritis)

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

  • Medical Editor: Catherine Burt Driver, MD
    Catherine Burt Driver, MD

    Catherine Burt Driver, MD

    Catherine Burt Driver, MD, is board certified in internal medicine and rheumatology by the American Board of Internal Medicine. Dr. Driver is a member of the American College of Rheumatology. She currently is in active practice in the field of rheumatology in Mission Viejo, Calif., where she is a partner in Mission Internal Medical Group.

Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis

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What are complications of septic arthritis?

Rapid clearing of the infection is critical to preserve the joint. If appropriate antibiotics are begun immediately, joint integrity can be maintained, and return to function is expected. If the infection has been longstanding, the possibility of joint destruction exists. The keys to successful outcome are rapid medical attention and drainage and the accurate administration of antibiotics to which the offending microbes are susceptible.

What is the prognosis of septic arthritis?

The outlook for septic arthritis depends on the precise microbe causing the infection, the duration of the infection, and the underlying overall health of the individual infected. Some types of microorganisms are more aggressive and difficult to treat than others. The longer the infection is present, the more opportunity for damage to affect the joint. People whose immune systems are not functioning optimally are also at risk for more joint damage. Moreover, if septic arthritis leads to infection in other parts of the body, other organs can be affected.

Is it possible to prevent septic arthritis?

It is possible to prevent septic arthritis by avoiding infections, puncture wounds, and damage to the skin.

Medically reviewed by Kirkwood Johnston, MD; American Board of Internal Medicine with subspecialty in Rheumatology

REFERENCE:

Klippel, J.H., et al. Primer on the Rheumatic Diseases. New York: Springer, 2008.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/14/2015

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