Septic Arthritis: What Do You Know About This Type of Arthritis?

Septic arthritis, also known as arthritis infectious, corresponds to a joint inflammation caused by infection and is a medical emergency.

About Septic Arthritis

The septic arthritis is the term used to describe an infection painful a joint. The infection stems from the invasion of micro-organisms, especially by bacteria.

The infection arises preferably through the micro-organisms that travel through the bloodstream to other parts of the body. It can also occur due to an open wound in which the micro-organisms directly enter the joint, or due to a surgical procedure such as an operation to the knee.

Typically, septic arthritis reaches a large joint in the body, such as the knee or the hip. It is less frequent to have the involvement of multiple joints. Immediate treatment is crucial, since the infection can impair quickly and severe the cartilage and bone within the joint.

SEPTIC ARTHRITIS: WHO IS AT GREATER RISK?

Although septic arthritis can affect any person, the presence of certain factors increases your risk, such as:

  • Medicines that suppress the immune system (the system responsible for the protection and defense of the organism against external agents);
  • Abuse intravenous drug;
  • History of joint disease;
  • Fragility of the skin: the skin that break easily and slow to heal may represent a port of entry for micro-organisms. Skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema increase the risk of septic arthritis, as well as wounds infected;
  • Trauma about a joint, such as for example a bite from an animal, puncture or a cut on a joint;
  • Surgery;
  • Medical conditions or underlying diseases, such as diabetes, cancer, infection (for example infection, urinary, respiratory, among others), alcoholism, rheumatic diseases (diseases that affect the musculoskeletal system), autoimmune diseases (diseases in which the immune system attacks the own body), and immune deficiencies.

People with symptoms of septic arthritis and in the presence of these factors should search promptly for medical care.
Children and the elderly are also more prone to develop this type of disease.

SEPTIC ARTHRITIS: SYMPTOMS

Usually the septic arthritis causes severe pain, swelling, redness and heat in the affected joints. Since this is an acute condition, should be suspected immediately when these symptoms develop rapidly over a few hours or days.

Septic arthritis can also include the following symptoms:

  • Chills;
  • Loss of appetite;
  • Irritability;
  • Fatigue and generalized weakness;
  • Fever;
  • Inability to move the limb with the articulation of the infected;
  • Severe pain in the affected joint, especially during movement.

SEPTIC ARTHRITIS: HOW IS IT DIAGNOSED?

Arthrocentesis is the medical procedure used to arrive at the exact diagnosis of septic arthritis. Consists in removing a sample of synovial fluid of the joint infected. This liquid is found in the joint cavity and is responsible for the maintenance of the lubrication. The study of the properties of this liquid, such as the color, volume and consistency, will help determine if an infection is present and which the micro-organism that is causes it.

The clinical analysis of blood and radiological studies are other procedures that can be performed. The analysis can help to identify signs of infection in the blood. The radiological studies of the joints involved assess the existing damage in the same.

SEPTIC ARTHRITIS: TREATMENT

If the treatment does not start at an early stage, the septic arthritis can cause joint degeneration and permanent damage. The treatment consists essentially in the administration of antibiotics and drainage of the synovial fluid with the joint.

The antibiotics will be administered immediately by intravenous (directly into a vein) to prevent infection will continue to spread. This way, you may have to spend a few days in the hospital. Later you can continue the treatment by oral antibiotics (pills). The treatment may last between four to six weeks, to ensure that the microbes are completely eradicated.

The drainage of the synovial fluid is essential for a rapid cleaning of the infection. The drainage can be carried out through aspirations regular with a needle and a syringe. However, some joints such as the hip, are more difficult to drain, being necessary to resort to surgical procedures. The arthroscopy procedure is usually chosen for this purpose, in which a thin tube of metal is inserted through a small hole made near the joint.

When the infection is resolved, the physiotherapy may be useful to restore the integrity of the joints involved.

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