Septic arthritis symptoms are joint pain, fever and chills. As these are very common symptoms, learn how to discover the disease and treat it on time!

Septic arthritis or infectious arthritis is a special type of arthritis. It consists of the inflammation of a joint by an infection. Said infection can be of bacterial, viral or fungal origin.

Infections can cause arthritis either directly or indirectly. When it is directly, the infectious agent is in the joint. However, in most cases, the infection begins in another area of ​​the body. Travel through the bloodstream to the joint.

Septic arthritis can cause serious consequences in the joint. In this article we explain what it is. Keep reading!

Causes of septic arthritis

Septic arthritis occurs when pathogenic organisms access the joint. As we have already mentioned, the most common is to access through the bloodstream. However, it can also happen that the joint is directly affected. This can occur from an injury or surgery. There are a series of situations that increase the risk of suffering it:

  • Bacterial infection in another part of the body.
  • Bacteremia: the presence of bacteria in the blood.
  • Joint surgery, for example, to implant prosthesis.
  • Chronic diseases such as diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis. The medicines doctors recommend for them can inhibit the immune system. Therefore, they tend to cause infections.
  • People who use drugs intravenously.
  • Arthroscopies.
  • Trauma.
  • Diseases of the skin psoriasis and eczema increase the risk.
  • Bacteria.i

It is important to note that most cases are caused by bacteria. Staphylococci and streptococci stand out. It can be observed at any age. However, it occurs more frequently in infants. Mainly, the hip or knee is affected.

Septic arthritis symptoms

The septic arthritis symptoms vary according to the type of infection. Bacterial infections usually affect only one joint. Typically they occur in the knee or hip. Any movement of this joint is very painful. The symptoms usually manifest quickly. In addition, they are often accompanied by fever and chills.

When it comes to a viral infection, septic arthritis symptoms usually occur gradually. They cause generalized joint pain, rather than a single joint. Mycotic infections are much less common. The symptoms are mainly:

  • In the baby, crying occurs when moving the joint. They may also have fever and irritability.
  • Intense joint pain.
  • Redness and inflammation.
  • Pseudoparalysis.
  • Shaking chills.


It is important to make a good clinical record. In addition, a complete physical examination must be carried out. The specific symptoms can guide the diagnosis. For example, arthritis due to a gonococcal infection usually also presents genital secretion. Finding out if the patient has suffered another recent infection is essential.

Blood test

First, doctors perform blood tests. They can also take fluid samples from the joints. With it, they perform an analysis under the microscope and a culture. In this way, they can determine if there is an infection, and identify the bacteria if necessary.

In addition, an x-ray of the affected joint can be obtained. X-rays and other diagnostic imaging tests can help assess the damage.

Treatment of septic arthritis

To treat septic arthritis symptoms, doctors drain the joint. If it is a bacterial infection, they give you antibiotic medications.

To choose the antibiotic it is necessary to know which is the bacterium that causes the infection. They can be administered orally or intravenously. Doctors take the patient’s age and medical history into account. When it comes to a viral infection, specific treatments are usually not administered.

In addition, doctors recommend rest to relieve pain. It is also advisable to apply cold compresses, anti-inflammatory and analgesic remedies.

Joint drainage

Doctors use a needle to insert into the synovial space by arthroscopy or by open surgery. In the case of the hip, it is more difficult to perform the needle procedure. Therefore, doctors usually perform a surgery.

In conclusion

It is important to know that septic arthritis most often affects infants and immunosuppressed people. Therefore, we must be even more alert in these conditions. It is necessary to consult the doctor if you notice joint inflammation or that the joint hurts.

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