What is septic arthritis, symptoms and how is treatment

Septic arthritis is the infection of a joint caused by bacteria that can appear after surgery, due to an injury near or far from the joint, or as a result of an infection elsewhere in the body, such as a urinary tract infection or a wound present in the skin.

The most affected sites in septic arthritis are the knee and hip joints, but can occur in any other joint in the body.

Septic arthritis is curable and its treatment should be started in the hospital with the use of antibiotics directly in the vein, as well as drainage of the joint with a needle. After that, the treatment must be continued through physiotherapy to recover the movements of the joint and prevent the onset of pain.

Main symptoms

The main symptom that may indicate septic arthritis is the inability to move the joint, but other symptoms that may also appear are:

  • Severe pain when moving the affected limb;
  • Swelling and redness in the joint;
  • Fever above 38ยบ C;
  • Burning sensation of the joint.

Septic arthritis leads to progressive degeneration of the joint and, therefore, can result in its destruction, especially if the infection is not identified in time and treated correctly.

Symptoms of septic arthritis are more frequent in children and the elderly with infected wounds in the regions close to joints, in addition to being more common in patients with autoimmune diseases or with pre-existing conditions such as diabetes or cancer.

The joints most affected are those of the knee and those of the hip, the latter being very serious when it occurs in children, as there may be impaired development. Learn how to identify septic arthritis in the hip.

How to confirm the diagnosis

The diagnosis of septic arthritis must be made by the orthopedist and is usually based on the symptoms presented by the person and clinical history.

However, often, the doctor also asks for some tests, especially X-rays, blood tests and puncture of the joint, in which a sample of the joint fluid is taken to be analyzed in the laboratory. This analysis allows to know the type of microorganism that is causing the infection and allows better treatment guidance.

How the treatment is done

Septic arthritis is considered an emergency and, therefore, if this type of infection is suspected it is very important to go to the hospital quickly. Treatment for septic arthritis is initiated on admission to the hospital to carry out the necessary tests and make medication for pain. After the test results, antibiotics are started in the vein to help fight the infection.

Usually, the hospital stay is maintained until the symptoms improve, but normally the person needs to keep using the antibiotic at home, for the time indicated by the doctor, to ensure that all bacteria are eliminated.

Physiotherapy for septic arthritis

Throughout the treatment, depending on the person's improvement, the doctor may indicate the realization of physical therapy so that exercises can be initiated in order to recover the movements of the affected limb. These exercises should be continued until the movement of the joint has returned to normal, or as close as possible.