What is septic arthritis?
Septic arthritis, also known as infectious arthritis or bacterial arthritis is characterised by the invasion of joint space by bacteria. This causes joints to swell, causing pain.
In cases where treatment is started at the right time and the specialist can diagnose the disease on time, the prognosis is very positive. Otherwise, the disease can evolve into a bone infection (osteomyelitis).
Symptoms of septic arthritis
Symptoms of the disease may vary depending on the severity of the disease. Symptoms include joint pain, stiffness, erythema and oedema. Moving the joint can become very painful. Often these symptoms manifest themselves quickly and may be accompanied by fever and chills.
Arthritis can be caused by any type of infection, directly or indirectly
Medical tests for septic arthritis
The specialist will review the patient's medical history and perform a physical examination. The symptoms that a person presents can help the doctor to get a proper diagnosis. A blood test or fluid sample from the joints will confirm whether or not an infection exists. In cases where the infection is caused by bacteria, joint fluid tests may be essential to identify the bacteria in question and prescribe the antibiotic needed for treatment.
What are the causes of septic arthritis?
Any type of infection can cause arthritis, directly or indirectly. With direct infection, infectious bacteria is found in the joint. In many cases, the infection begins in another area of the body and is transported through the blood supply to the joints.
Treating septic arthritis
Antibiotics play a fundamental role in fighting the disease. Treatment should be adjusted according to the results of the antibiogram, which analyses the type of microorganism present in the joint and the antibiotics to which it is resistant, in order to ensure the effectiveness of the treatment. In addition, anti-inflammatories and pain relievers to help relieve pain can be prescribed. Specialists also recommend resorting to physical therapy in order to restore the function of the damaged joint.
What specialist treats it?
The specialist who treats septic arthritis is a rheumatologist.