This sudden and painful form of arthritis brought on by an infection can quickly and permanently damage joints.
Infectious arthritis, also called septic arthritis, is a painful infection in the joint. It can occur when an infection from another part of your body spreads to a joint or the fluid surrounding the joint. Infection-causing germs may also enter the body during surgery, or through open wounds or an injection. Infectious arthritis usually occurs in only one joint.
In most cases, infectious arthritis develops when an infection somewhere else in the body travels through the bloodstream to the joint. Less commonly, the infection enters the joint directly through a puncture wound or surgery on or near the joint.
- Antibiotics. Treatment will depend on the type of germ causing the infection. Bacterial infections are almost always treated with antibiotics. The type of antibiotic used will depend on the type of bacteria causing the infection. Antibiotics may be taken by mouth or given intravenously. Antibiotics often stop the infection in a few days, but in some cases, they must be given over several months. Infectious arthritis caused by a virus usually goes away on its own with no specific treatment and fungal infections are treated with antifungal medication.
- Joint Drainage. Many people with infectious arthritis need to have their joint fluid drained. This is done to remove infected synovial fluid, relieve pain, reduce inflammation and prevent further damage to the joint. The least invasive procedure is called joint aspiration, during which a doctor (or another health care provider) inserts a needle into the joint and withdraws fluid. Sometimes a procedure called arthroscopy is used to drain fluid or, in more challenging cases, open joint surgery.
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