It is critically important that the infection is cleared rapidly to prevent the destruction of the joint. The prognosis of septic arthritis depends on several factors, including:
- What is causing the infection: Some kinds of microorganisms are more difficult to treat than others.
- How long the infection lasts: The longer an infection remains in the affected joint, the greater the risk for permanent damage.
- The patient’s overall health: People with compromised immune systems are at greater risk for increased joint damage.
If left untreated, septic arthritis can lead to infection in other organs.
Septic arthritis treatment
Drainage of the affected joint and administration of antibiotic medications are the primary methods of treating septic arthritis.
Septic arthritis joint drainage
Removing the infected fluid from around the joint is critical. Methods used to drain the fluid include:
- Needle Aspiration: This procedure involves the insertion of a needle into the joint space. The doctor then withdraws or aspirates the fluid with a syringe that is attached to the needle.
- Arthroscopic Procedure: In this procedure, the doctor makes a small incision in your skin near the affected joint and inserts a small flexible tube with a tiny camera attached. Tubes to drain and suction the fluid are then also inserted through tiny incisions.
- Open surgery: Drainage of large joints sometimes requires open surgery.
Septic arthritis antibiotics
In order to know which antibiotic will be the most effective in treating your septic arthritis, the specific organism that is causing your infection must be identified. The doctors do this by taking a sample of your joint fluid. At the beginning of treatment, antibiotics are usually administered intravenously (through a vein). However, the doctor may change your medication to an oral pill you can swallow later in your septic arthritis treatment. Antibiotics often have side effects, including diarrhea, nausea, or vomiting. Be sure to ask your doctor any questions you have about your medications.