What are Joint Infections?
Joint infections, also known as septic arthritis, are infections that affect the synovial fluid and tissues that surround the joints. These infections can occur in any joint in the body, but they most commonly affect the knees, hips, and shoulders. Joint infections are a serious medical condition that requires prompt treatment to prevent permanent joint damage and other complications.
What causes Joint Infections?
Joint infections are caused by bacteria, viruses, or fungi that enter the joint through the bloodstream or from an adjacent infected area. In many cases, joint infections occur as a result of a previous injury or surgery to the joint. People who have weakened immune systems or who have other medical conditions, such as diabetes, are also at increased risk for developing joint infections.
Who is at Risk for Joint Infections?
Anyone can develop a joint infection, but certain factors can increase the risk. These include:
- Previous joint injury or surgery
- Weakened immune system
- Chronic medical conditions, such as diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis
- Intravenous drug use
- Skin infections or other infections in the body
What are the Symptoms of Joint Infections?
The symptoms of joint infections can vary depending on the location and severity of the infection. Common symptoms include:
- Joint pain, swelling, and stiffness
- Limited range of motion in the affected joint
- Fever and chills
- Fatigue and weakness
- Redness and warmth around the affected joint
- Difficulty bearing weight or walking
How are Joint Infections Diagnosed?
To diagnose a joint infection, your doctor will perform a physical examination and may order imaging tests, such as X-rays or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). They may also perform a joint aspiration, which involves removing a small amount of fluid from the joint for laboratory testing. The fluid will be analyzed for signs of infection, such as the presence of bacteria, white blood cells, or other abnormal cells.
How are Joint Infections Treated?
The treatment for joint infections typically involves a combination of antibiotics and other medications to relieve pain and reduce inflammation. In some cases, surgery may be necessary to remove infected tissue or repair damage to the joint. People with severe joint infections may require hospitalization for intravenous antibiotic therapy and close monitoring.