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Infectious Arthritis

By Editorial Team (2)
January 31, 2022

Infectious arthritis is a condition that causes intense pain in a joint due to infection. Germs can settle and multiply in a joint or several joints, being carried there in your bloodstream from an infection in a different part of your body. An infection can also develop in one of your joints because of a penetrating wound or injury that allows germs to enter your joint directly through your skin.

People most at risk for developing infectious arthritis are the elderly and infants. Joints that are affected most commonly are the hips and knees. Prompt treatment is essential because an infection in the joint can quickly cause severe damage to the bone and cartilage of the joint.

Infectious arthropathies

Treatment for infectious arthritis usually involves surgically draining the infection from the joint or aspirating (withdrawing) the fluids with a needle. Antibiotics given intravenously may also be needed to stop the infection.


Joint infection can be caused by germs which are fungal, viral or bacterial. The most common cause of infectious arthritis is Staphylococcus aureus (staph). This is a bacterial infection that commonly lives on even healthy, normal skin. Joint infection can likewise be caused by viral or contagious diseases.

Much of the time, joint infection is developed when a contamination elsewhere in the body sets out through the circulation system to the joint. The contamination enters the joint directly through a cut injury or surgery on or close to the joint.

Infectious arthritis is most likely to occur when an infection somewhere else in your body, for example, a urinary tract infection or a respiratory infection, travels through your bloodstream and settles in a joint. Less often, an injection, a puncture wound, surgery or other injuries near or in a joint gives germs an entry point through the skin and into the joint.

The tissue that lines your joints, called the synovium, cannot protect itself well from infection. Your body reacts to infection by causing inflammation at the site. This reduces blood flow to the tissues and increases pressure due to swelling. The inflammation caused by infectious arthritis can further damage the joint, bones and cartilage.

Risk factors

Some of the risk factors for infectious arthritis are:

  • Current joint disorders: If you currently have conditions or diseases affecting your joints, you may be at greater risk of developing infectious arthritis. Some of these conditions include lupus, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and gout.
  • Taking certain medications for rheumatoid arthritis: People who have a diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis are at increased risk if they take medications that affect the body’s natural ability to fight infection (immune system). In addition, many of the symptoms and signs of rheumatoid arthritis are similar to infectious arthritis, so diagnosing the condition in these cases may be more difficult.
  • Skin disorders: Bacteria may have an easier time entering your body and causing infectious arthritis if your skin easily breaks down or tears, or if you heal slowly. People who have skin disorders such as eczema or psoriasis and those with skin wounds that are infected are also at greater risk of developing infectious arthritis.
  • People who require injections or abuse drugs: Individuals who require frequent or regular injections of medications or those who abuse injected substances are at an increased risk of developing an infection that leads to infectious arthritis.
  • Weakened immunity: If your body is unable to defend itself against germs due to a compromised immune system, you may be at increased risk for infectious arthritis. For example, diabetics, people who have liver and kidney disorders, and individuals who take medications that decrease the body’s natural immune response are at an increased risk for developing infections, this includes infectious arthritis.

Certain individuals will probably get irresistible joint pain than others. The hazard factors include:

  • having joint issues, for example, joint inflammation, gout, or lupus
  • having a past joint surgery
  • having certain skin conditions
  • having open injuries
  • taking too much-unprescribed medications or liquor
  • taking medications that stifle the insusceptible framework
  • having a debilitated resistant framework
  • having a disease
  • smoking
  • having diabetes

Having a combination of several of these risk factors usually will increase your risk of developing infectious arthritis more than having only one.


Incredible joint pain is an extremely treatable condition if it’s dealt with ahead of schedule and forcefully. You’ll probably observe a change in your indications within 48 hours of starting the treatment. Untreated joint inflammation can cause permanent joint damage.

Infectious Arthritis Symptoms

The primary infectious arthritis symptoms are extreme pain and stiffness or difficulty moving the joint that has been affected or infected. The joint may also become reddened, warm, and swollen. You may also develop a fever because it’s also an infectious arthritis symptom.

If you have sudden, severe pain in a joint, it’s essential to see your doctor. Getting treatment right away may help to minimize the damage to your joint, bones and cartilage that untreated infectious arthritis can cause.

The finding of irresistible joint pain will incorporate an entire medicinal history, physical exam, and research center tests. Investigating a specimen of joint liquid can figure out what life form is causing the disease and the infectious arthritis symptoms and enable the specialist to design treatment. X-rays and other imaging trials of the influenced joint additionally might be requested to detect any harm to the joint.

Different infectious arthritis symptoms can occur and change, contingent upon the reason. Some more typical reasons for joint infection include:

1. Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is caused by microbes that live in deer ticks and are transmitted through a tick bite into the body’s circulation system.

Since the microbes frequently go unnoticed and the rash might be disregarded, Lyme disease is not generally analyzed quickly. At the point when the contamination is not treated, facilitate manifestations may create, including joint aggravation (most normally in the knee). Joint pain normally creates in the later phases of Lyme disease.

2. Gonorrhea

Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted bacterial contamination that can cause pain in at least one joint or ligaments, and in some cases a rash and fever. Around 33% of individuals with gonorrhea report joint pain.

3. Staphylococcus Infection

Staphylococcus microscopic organisms are basic microbes that can cause diseases through cuts or different breaks in the skin, or through tainted nourishment. The microscopic organisms can be discharged into the circulation system and spread to the knee or different joints, causing extreme and sudden pain, swelling and fixed status of the joint. This is a genuine condition since joint harm can create inside days if the disease is not found and treated rapidly.

4. Tuberculosis

Tuberculosis is a disease caused by the Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacterium. It ordinarily influences the lungs, yet it can influence different parts of the body, including the gastrointestinal tract, nerves, lymph framework and skin, and additionally bones and joints. Joint inflammation caused by tuberculosis typically influences either the spine or extensive joints, for example, the hips or knees. The joint aggravation caused by tuberculosis has a tendency to be less emotional than irritation caused by some other bacterial contaminations, and it grows gradually.

5. Infections

Joint pain can be caused by the disease by numerous infections, including those such as colds, upper respiratory infection, human immunodeficiency infection (HIV), hepatitis, parvovirus, rubella, and mumps. Many joints can be influenced in the meantime, and the side effects of viral irresistible joint pain can be like the side effects of rheumatoid joint inflammation. Notwithstanding, popular joint infection side effects vanish within days or weeks if the sickness causing the issue leaves. HIV and a few types of viral hepatitis may cause interminable (durable) contamination and longer-enduring joint indications.

Diagnostic procedures

In the event that your specialist presumes that your joint side effects are identified with a bacterial contamination, he or she will expel liquid from the influenced joint with a needle and will have it dissected in a lab. You may have blood and urine tests.

In case your specialist thinks a sexually transmitted infection might be causing the issue, he or she will do a pelvic examination if you are a woman and a swab of the penis and urine test if you are a man. The urine and swabbed material are sent to be tested in a lab. Tests are not accessible to analyze most popular maladies. However, a portion of the more typical viral reasons for joint pain, for example, parvovirus, hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV, can more often than not be determined with blood tests.

If your physician suspects infectious arthropathy, he may recommend the following tests:

  • Joint fluid analysis: Your physician will need to find out specifically what is causing your infection. In order to do this, he will take a small sample of the fluid from around your joint (synovial fluid). This fluid is normally thick and clear, but infections can make it change in color and consistency. Infectious arthritis can also make this fluid increase or build up. The sample of fluid your doctor collects will be sent to the lab to determine what bacteria or other types of organisms are causing the infection.
  • Blood tests: Your physician might also order blood tests. These studies will help determine if infectious arthritis has spread to your bloodstream.
  • Imaging tests: These may include X-rays, CT scans or other studies of your joints to determine the amount, if any, the damage has occurred to the joint or surrounding tissues.

Infectious Arthritis Treatment

It is critical to begin anti-infection agents when a disease is suspected to be present, even before the hospital has distinguished the infection. Anti-microbials that kill the microorganisms that are most probably causing the disease are given to the point that the contaminating life form is found, for the most part within 48 hours of testing the joint liquid. Anti-infection agents are given by vein (intravenously) at first to guarantee that enough of the medication achieves the infected joint.

If the anti-infection agents are viable against the tainting microscopic organisms, change, for the most part, happens within 48 hours. The antitoxin might be dependent upon the type of the specific microbes, in particular, anti-infection agents. Intravenous anti-infection agents may be given for 2 days to a month. At that point, anti-infection agents are given by mouth at high measurements for another 2 days to a month and a half.

The specialist frequently removes discharge with a needle to prevent it aggregating joints, in light of the fact that collected discharge may harm a joint and might be harder to cure with anti-toxins. In the event that seepage with a needle is troublesome (as with a hip joint) or unsuccessful, arthroscopy (a technique utilizing a little extension to see within the joint directly) or surgery might be expected to deplete the joint. This is frequently accomplished more than once. Once in a while, a tube is left, set up in the joint, to deplete the discharge. Supporting of the joint (to shield it from moving) is necessary for an initial couple of days to enable relief of pain, however non-intrusive treatment then starts to reinforce muscles and avoid stiffness and loss of capacity to move.

Diseases caused by parasites are treated with antifungal medications. Contaminations caused by mycobacteria are treated with a blend of anti-toxins. Diseases caused by parasites and mycobacteria require long haul treatment. Diseases caused by infections typically show signs of improvement without anti-microbial treatment.

For infectious arthritis treatment, doctors focus on the drainage from the affected joint(s) and on antibiotic medications.

Joint Drainage

It is critical that the infected joint fluid is removed. There are various ways this can be accomplished, depending on the severity and location of infectious arthritis. Methods of removing the joint drainage include:

  • Needle Aspiration: Many times, a physician is able to insert a needle into the joint space and use it to withdraw the infected fluid from the area affected by infectious arthritis.
  • Arthroscopic procedure: During an arthroscopy, an incision is made near the joint through which a small bendable tube is inserted into the affected joint. This tube has a tiny camera on the end of it to guide your physician’s insertion of drainage and suctioning tubes around the joint affected by infectious arthritis.
  • Open surgery: Joints like the hip are difficult to drain with arthroscopy or aspiration so surgery might be required to drain the fluid.

Antibiotic drugs

In order to choose the antibiotic that will be the most effective, your physician must first identify the specific organism that is causing infectious arthritis. Antibiotic therapy is usually started with the medications being administered intravenously (through a needle into a vein in your arm). After the initial week or so of intravenous medication, your doctor may choose to change your medication to antibiotics taken by mouth. Most often, infectious arthritis treatment lasts from approximately two to six weeks.

Antibiotics, whether taken by IV (intravenously) or by mouth have a potential for causing side effects that may include diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. Allergic reactions also sometimes occur. Talk to your physician about what side effects are possible from your particular medication for infectious arthritis treatment.

After the disease is gone, delicate exercise is useful for building muscle quality to help the joint and enhance the scope of movement.


The ideal approach to avoid irresistible joint inflammation changes relying upon the kind of contamination:

Staphylococcal joint pain – If you have a staphylococcal disease, antimicrobial’s can be utilized to keep this kind of joint inflammation at bay. Arthritis can be caused by bacterial, viral or fungal infections. Bacterial infection with staphylococcal aureus (staph) is the most common cause. Your body’s reaction to the infection contributes to the damage because inflammation may increase pressure and reduce blood flow within the joints, contributing to the damage.

Gonococcal joint pain – You can keep this kind of joint inflammation away by avoiding gonorrhea. Practice safe sex or don’t engage in sexual relations.

Lyme disease joint inflammation – the ideal approach to keep joint inflammation from a Lyme infection is to maintain a strategic distance from Lyme infection. Wear long jeans and long sleeved shirts, utilize tick repellent, and stay away from woods, brush and different zones where ticks live. In case you live in a range where Lyme disease is normal or prevalent, you can avert Lyme disease by taking anti-infection agents not long after subsequent to finding a joined or engorged deer tick on your body. Also, you can counteract Lyme joint pain by taking antimicrobials when the rash of Lyme disease is first noticed.

Tuberculosis-related joint pain – A tuberculosis antibody may forestall tuberculosis and any related joint pain. In any case, immunization for tuberculosis is not standard in many parts of the world, including the United States, and the antibody is just tolerably compelling. In the event that you have tuberculosis, anti-infection agents may anticipate joint contamination and joint pain. If a skin test demonstrates late presentation of tuberculosis, or if a chest X-ray proposes dynamic tuberculosis, antimicrobials may prevent the contamination from spreading into joints.

Viral joint pain – the ideal approach to staying away from joint inflammation caused by a viral contamination is to abstain from getting the disease. Wash your hands after you have been around children or other individuals with a viral disease. Approaches to forestall hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV incorporate maintaining a strategic distance from the utilization of infused drugs, not sharing needles and not having unprotected sex with anyone who might be tainted.

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