Septic arthritis - Caidr
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Septic arthritis

Updated 04.04.2022
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Septic arthritis is not contagious to others. But it needs to be identified and treated as soon as possible to avoid irreversible joint damage and further risk to your health from sepsis. If you are concerned you have septic arthritis you should seek urgent medical attention. Septic arthritis is a significant problem but if treated early and the infection is cleared you should be able to avoid any long term problems to the joint or to your general health.

What are the symptoms?

Septic arthritis causes you to have a sudden onset of significant pain in a joint that is very difficult and painful to move. You will often feel generally unwell and the joint may feel warm and swollen. The knee joint is most commonly affected by septic arthritis. Certain people are more at risk of septic arthritis. These include people with a weakened immune system, people with rheumatoid arthritis, and people with an artificial joint.

Is it contagious?

Septic arthritis is not contagious to others. But it needs to be identified and treated as soon as possible to avoid irreversible joint damage and further risk to your health from sepsis. If you are concerned you have septic arthritis you should seek urgent medical attention. Septic arthritis is a significant problem but if treated early and the infection is cleared you should be able to avoid any long term problems to the joint or to your general health.

When should I see my doctor?

If you are concerned that you have septic arthritis you should seek urgent medical attention. Your doctor will examine you and may arrange additional investigations. If they suspect septic arthritis, they will refer you to hospital, where specialists will do blood tests and scanning, and they may take a sample of fluid taken from your joint to test for bacteria. Septic arthritis is treated with antibiotics – usually intravenous via a line at first, and later changed to antibiotic tablets. They may consider an operation to help clear the infection. Infection of an artificial joint, such as a total hip or knee replacement, is treated differently and in some cases may require an operation to remove or exchange the artificial joint. Again, this requires urgent medical attention if suspected.

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