Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital
 

Infectious Arthritis

Infectious Arthritis

What is infectious arthritis?

Anatomy of the hip joint
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Infectious arthritis is an infection in the joint (synovial) fluid and joint tissues. The infection usually reaches the joint(s) though the bloodstream, although some joints may become infected due to an injection, surgery, illness (such as pneumonia), or injury. Different bacteria and viruses can infect a joint and usually are associated with a person's age, including the following:

What are the symptoms of infectious arthritis?

The most common joints affected by infectious arthritis are the knee, hip, shoulder, elbow, wrist, and finger. Most infections only affect one joint. The following are the most common symptoms of infectious arthritis. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:

The symptoms of infectious arthritis may resemble other medical conditions or problems. Always consult your doctor for a diagnosis.

How is infectious arthritis diagnosed?

Prompt diagnosis of infectious arthritis is necessary to prevent permanent damage to the joint. In addition to a complete medical history and physical examination, diagnostic procedures for infectious arthritis may include the following:

Treatment for infectious arthritis

Specific treatment for infectious arthritis will be determined by your doctor based on:

Infectious arthritis usually requires immediate treatment with antibiotics, which can often improve symptoms within 48 hours. However, certain infections caused by fungi need treatment with antifungal medications, while viral infections usually have to run their course without treatment. To prevent accumulation of pus from the infection, which can damage the joint, the pus may be drained with a needle, tube, or surgery. Other treatment may include:

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