Infectious Arthritis: Condition, Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Infectious Arthritis: Condition, Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

The majority of arthritis types result in joint discomfort and swelling. Joints are the places or areas where two bones meet for example our elbows and knees .Infectious Arthritis also known as septic arthritis is generally...


The majority of arthritis types result in joint discomfort and swelling. Joints are the places or areas where two bones meet for example our elbows and knees .Infectious Arthritis also known as septic arthritis is generally caused by bacterial species of microorganisms. The condition is an infection-related joint inflammation. Septic arthritis typically impacts one  large joint, like the knee or hip. Septic arthritis can occasionally affect several joints. Septic arthritis can easily spread to various parts of human body .

The most frequent cause is bacterial infection with Staphylococcus aureus (staph). Even healthy skin can harbour Staph. An infection, such as a skin or urinary tract infection, can cause septic arthritis.


Extreme discomfort and difficulties using the afflicted joint are common symptoms of septic arthritis. You may have  fever and the affected joint may be swollen, red, and warm.

Severe inflammation brought on by septic arthritis has the potential to destroy joint tissue. The cartilage and bone may sustain lasting harm as a result of this.

The main signs and symptoms of this type of arthritis are swelling, pain, and stiffness in the afflicted joint. Other indications and symptoms of infectious arthritis include:

greater agony than the discomfort caused by non-infectious inflammatory arthritis

a restricted range of motion in the afflicted joint, along with inflammation around the joint, fever, fatigue, and weakness, alterations in hunger, higher anxiety, body sores

Though septic arthritis in the knee is the most prevalent form, this disease can affect other joints as well.Other joints for example shoulder , hip , wrist  may also be affected by septic arthritis . Within a few hours or less after the illness starts, symptoms may start to show up and worsen. Depending on the infection's underlying source, people might also experience other symptoms.

Causes /factors leading to septic arthritis:

Without any other infections present, infectious arthritis can still develop. However, a prior illness is typically to blame for it. Infectious arthritis is a result of a germ that first causes an infection elsewhere on the body before spreading to one or more joints.

 Along with an illness, erythema nodosum can occasionally happen. It is not directly caused by these infectious germs, despite the fact that tuberculosis and infections by specific fungi are frequently linked to it. Red, tender bumps the size of a quarter that appear most frequently on the skin of the lower legs and occasionally on other areas of the body are the most obvious sign of erythema nodosum.

Following are the etiological causes of infectious arthritis :

Bacteria, fungi, or viral particles that infiltrate the area around a joint are the most frequent causes of infectious or septic arthritis.

Septic arthritis is most frequently caused by bacterial illness. According to a study published in 2019, more than half of cases of septic arthritis are caused by bacteria belonging to the Staphylococci family. Numerous skin conditions are also caused by this type of bacteria.

Streptococci bacteria strains, which can also cause strep infections, and Neisseria gonorrhoeae bacteria, which can cause gonorrhea, are two additional reasons of septic arthritis.

The chance of contracting an infection that could lead to septic arthritis increases in people who have had joint replacement surgery or who have had animal bites, cuts, or puncture wounds on their joints.

As damaged joints may be more prone to infection, having a compromised immune system or a history of other joint issues, such as gout, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, or osteoarthritis, may also increase the chance.

The bacterium that causes gonorrhoea is known by the name gonococcus. A sexually transmitted illness is gonorrhoea. It mostly has an effect on the vaginal region. But the gonococcus bacterium can spread to other body parts through the blood system. Infectious arthritis may form in the affected joints and the surrounding tissue if it rests in one or more joints. The ligaments and knee joints are typically both affected by gonococcus.

Sexual intercourse is the primary method of transmission for gonorrhoea. In sexual relationships where there may be a possibility of contracting the disease, caution should be exercised. The proper prophylactic use can typically stop the spread of gonorrhoea.

Other conditions caused by gram-positive bacteria include meningitis, asthma, and abscesses. When the bacteria spread to a joint and cause inflammation, patients with these diseases frequently develop infectious arthritis. In other instances, Gram-positive bacteria induce infectious arthritis without being associated with any other illnesses.

Hemophilus is a Gram-negative bacterium that can induce meningitis and a very bad sore throat. Infectious  arthritis is frequently brought on by it in infants , but it rarely affects adults.

Under a microscope, microorganisms called spirochetes have a spiral appearance. Spirochetes come in a wide variety of varieties. Lyme disease is a contagious form of arthritis brought on by one type (called Borrelia). People who are bitten by ticks develop this illness. Although Lyme disease can affect anyone, kids are more likely to contract it.

Infectious arthritis can also be brought on by the same bacterium that causes TB. Today, it is much less frequent than it was in the past. When it does happen, it frequently takes a very long time to develop and typically spreads from the lung to only affect one joint.

Viruses can also be the source of infectious arthritis. It typically results from a viral illness that a person already has in their body. Viral infections like infectious hepatitis, contagious mumps, and infectious mononucleosis can cause a brief episode of infectious arthritis. The joint irritation typically only lasts one to two weeks. In addition to the measles rash, German measles can also cause a contagious arthritis that, on rare occasions, can persist for up to a year.

The least frequent source of infectious arthritis is fungi. Fungus-caused arthritis typically progresses very slowly. Arthritis-causing fungi are typically found in soil, bird droppings, and certain vegetation. (especially roses). Farmers who raise chickens and gardeners have a higher risk of developing this type of arthritis.

Diagnosis of infectious Arthritis:

The doctor will first inquire about the patient's symptoms and any existing medical conditions to determine whether they are indicative of contagious arthritis.

Any recent travel, illness, or contact with infected individuals will be brought up by the doctor. Conditions at work or home could also provide the doctor with information about the disease.

The doctor will conduct a physical examination and request additional tests following the medical history. To ascertain whether there is joint damage, X-rays may be obtained. The presence of an infection can be determined using a variety of laboratory procedures.

Finding the specific germ responsible for the infection is crucial. It is typically possible to identify bacteria and fungi in joint fluid, blood, urine, or the infected region. The majority of the time, the doctor will want to drain and inspect the joint's fluid. A tiny piece of tissue from the joint will need to be removed if tuberculosis or fungi are detected. It's known as a biopsy. To identify the type of bacteria or fungi present, the fluid or tissue will be inspected under a microscope in the lab.

Symptoms and past medical history are typically used to diagnose viral infections. Blood tests may detect the quantity of a person's own virus-fighting proteins (antibodies) produced in reaction to a viral infection after the infection has persisted for weeks or longer.

Periodontal surgeries:

Even cleaning your teeth while you have gum disease can allow bacteria into your bloodstream. Health of the periodontium is crucial. Rarely, particularly when significant dental work is being done, periodontal disease may result in an infectious arthritis. We worry about it especially for people who have artificial joints because they cannot fight off germs that could enter the bloodstream. Those with abnormal joints, particularly those with rheumatoid arthritis, those who have prosthetic joints, and those who have diabetes are more likely to develop infectious arthritis. Consult your rheumatologist or orthopedist before getting dental work done if you have arthritis or artificial joints in position. A one-hour-before and eight-hour-after medication may be necessary.

Treatment of infectious arthritis:

The majority of the time, infectious arthritis patients need to be hospitalised for diagnosis and treatment; the type of infectious arthritis present will determine the type of treatment and duration of stay.

Treatment of bacterial infections

An antibiotic is almost always administered to patients whose bacterially-induced infectious arthritis. Antibiotics are drugs that help the body combat bacteria. Various medicines kill various bacteria. As a result, the type of bacteria present determines which antibiotic is recommended.

Antibiotics can be administered intravenously or consumed orally. An intravenous or IV injection is one that is administered through a vein. Direct injection of the antibiotic into the bloodstream occurs with an IV. This enables the anti-infection medication to reach the infected joint more quickly and with a greater concentration.

Often, an infection can be cured with medicines in a matter of days or weeks. Antibiotics may occasionally need to be taken over a long period of time. Even if your symptoms go away, keep taking your medicines for the full number of days recommended. Many people believe that once their symptoms subside, they can cease taking their medication. Even after the signs go away, bacteria might still be there. The bacteria can reinfect the region if the antibiotic does not kill them.

Treatment of viral infections:

Virus-induced inflammatory arthritis typically resolves on its own. There are no medications to cure viral infections. Usually, it's advised to rest in bed and consume lots of water.

Treatment of fungal infections:

Treatment for fungus infections is frequently challenging. A drug that combats fungus can be prescribed by doctors. It might take months to use this. Sometimes surgery is required to remove the infection from the affected joint. Infections caused by fungi are challenging to completely eradicate. They might come back even after an effective treatment.

Treatment of inflammation:

The doctor may suggest a drug to treat pain and inflammation in all forms of infectious arthritis. These are referred to as anti-inflammatory medications.

The doctor may frequently need to drain one or more joints. To accomplish this, a syringe is inserted into the joint, and fluid is drawn out. The majority of the time, this process is simple and painless. It is done to get rid of any dangerous substances that the bacteria or the body's cells that combat bacteria release. It might be necessary to perform joint fluid extraction several times. In most cases, surgery can be avoided with frequent drainage and strong IV antibiotic dosages.

Alternate ways of treatment:

Resting and safeguarding the joints are additional possible treatments for arthritis. Movement can be restricted with splints. This lessens tissue damage and discomfort.

The doctor will frequently advise exercises to increase muscle power after the infection has cleared up. To extend the joint's range of motion, additional activities might be suggested. Exercises that can be performed at home can be demonstrated and assisted by a physical therapist.

Surgery, such as an arthroscopy or an open procedure, is usually necessary to wash out the joint in infectious arthritis instances. Sometimes, surgery is necessary to repair any damaged joint tissue or to replace the entire joint, but only after the infection has been managed.

Along with treating the illness, there may be additional pain-relieving treatments used. These strategies include:

using non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications

putting the affected joint in a splint, resting the joint, and receiving physical treatment.


Infectious arthritis is typically not a chronic condition, in contrast to other forms of the disease. It is typically a curable type of arthritis when treated quickly and effectively. Infectious arthritis can spread to other parts of the body and cause severe damage to the affected joints, though, if it is not properly treated. Therefore, it's critical to identify the signs of infectious arthritis and seek therapy as soon as possible

If it is treated quickly and aggressively, infectious arthritis is a disease that is very treatable. After beginning treatment, you'll most likely notice an improvement in your symptoms after 48 hours. Infectious arthritis left untreated can result in long-term joint injury.