Septic arthritis

Septic arthritis is an intensely painful infection in a joint. The joint can become infected with germs that travel through your bloodstream from another part of your body. Septic arthritis can also occur when a penetrating injury brings germs directly into the joint.

Infants and older adults are most likely to develop septic arthritis. The most common joints affected are the knees and hips. Septic arthritis can quickly and severely damage the cartilage and bone within the joint, so prompt treatment is crucial.

Treatment involves draining the joint with a needle or via an operation. Intravenous antibiotics also may be necessary to stop the infection.

Symptoms Causes Risk factors Complications

Septic arthritis typically causes extreme discomfort and difficulty using the affected joint. The joint may be swollen, red and warm, and you might have a fever.

When to see a doctor

See your doctor if you have sudden onset of severe pain in a joint. Prompt treatment may help minimize joint damage.

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