Infective arthritis

Septic arthritis

Inflammation of a joint caused by a bacterial infection

About

Infective arthritis is a type of arthritis caused by an infection in your joint. It usually affects your hips, knees, ankles or wrists. More than one joint can be affected at the same time. You can usually make a full recovery following treatment. Without treatment, septic arthritis may lead to irreversible damage to your joint.

Need to know

  • Symptoms of infective arthritis icon plus

    Symptoms may include:

    • intense swelling and pain
    • redness and heat in the affected joint
    • difficulty moving the affected joint
    • a high temperature (fever) or feeling cold accompanied by shivering (chills)
  • Diagnosis icon plus

    Your consultant will speak to you about your symptoms and medical history, and perform a physical examination of your affected joint. They may take a sample of joint fluid using a needle. This is to determine what bacteria are causing your infection. It will help your consultant to plan your treatment. It's also possible you'll have an X-ray, CT or MRI scan to assess the damage to the affected joint.
  • Potential treatment options icon plus

    Treatment options include:

    • Over-the-counter painkillers and rest.
    • Intravenous antibiotics; you will normally be required to stay in hospital for two weeks to have the antibiotics given to you directly into a vein.
    • An arthroscopy, when fluid is drained from your infected joint using a needle and syringe.

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Consultant with patient

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This content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.
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