Infectious arthritis is an inflammation of one or more joints (principally the wrists, knee or hip) that is caused by infection. The disease can occur in individuals of all ages, including children, but in adults there is usually a history of osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis as well.
There are two principle types of infectious arthritis: gonococcal and non-gonococcal. Gonococcal arthritis is the most common form of the disease, especially in urban areas. It is usually found in otherwise healthy individuals aged 40 or under. Women have the disease twice as often as men, and frequently during the menstrual cycle or pregnancy; homosexual males commonly develop the disease as a complication of gonococcal pharyngitis and proctitis. Non-gonococcal arthritis, also known as septic arthritis, has a sudden onset, usually affecting wrists and large joints. It is usually traced to Staphylococcus, Streptococcus, E. coli and Pseudomonas aeruginosa bacteria and is found most frequently in drug abusers and in individuals with damaged or artificial joints.
Infectious Arthritis signs and symptoms
Chills and fever (sometimes high).
Redness, swelling, tenderness and pain (often throbbing)
in the affected joint. Pain sometimes spreads to
other joints. It worsens with movement.
Pain in the buttocks, thighs or groin (sometimes).
Entry into a joint by germs, usually bacteria (streptococci,
staphylococci, gonococci, haemophilus or tubercle
bacillus) or fungi. Germs gain entry from:
Infection elsewhere in the body, as with gonorrhea or
Infection next to the joint, as with skin boils, cellulitis
or bone infection.
Injury to the joint, including puncture wounds and
Splints or casts may be necessary to rest the affected joint completely. Movement delays healing.
Range-of-motion exercises may be started following treatment.
After cure, physical therapy is often necessary to restore joint function. Resume normal activities gradually as symptoms improve.
No special diet.
What might complicate it?
Acute respiratory distress is a complication of septic arthritis. Both treated and untreated septic arthritis can result in permanent damage of the affected joint. Spread of the infection to a heart valve may require six weeks of intravenous antibiotics.
Treatment for gonococcal arthritis is usually a complete success. The outlook for individuals with septic arthritis is less favorable, with a mortality rate of up to 30% when individuals develop respiratory problems or have the infection in several joints. Non-gonococcal arthritis may permanently damage the involved joint.