Septic or infectious arthritis, is a rare but serious disease, brought about by the invasion of disease causing micro-organisms including bacteria and fungi. Infectious arthritis leads to severe inflammation of the joints, particularly the monoarticular joints of the body. In medical circles, septic arthritis is also referred to as suppurative, purulent or bacterial arthritis.
Septic arthritis is brought about by the invasion of disease causing pathogens like bacteria, which invades the blood stream through a small superficial surface cut or wound. Sometimes these bacteria may also enter the blood stream, after a person has undergone a major surgical procedure. Once the bacteria enters the blood stream they quickly spread to the joints. These bacteria, can lead to pus formation inside the joints which can trigger severe pain and inflammation.
Bacteria which are responsible for infectious or septic arthritis include Staphylococcus aureus, E.Coli, Salmonella spp. and mycobacterium tuberculosis to name a few. The best way to differentiate infectious arthritis from other arthritic forms is to observe the unique symptoms associated with this condition. Some of the characteristic symptoms linked with septic arthritis have been discussed in this article.
Signs & Symptoms of Septic Arthritis
Severe Joint Pain
One of the primary symptoms of septic arthritis is severe pain or discomfort in one or more joints of the body. The degree of joint pain depends on the level of inflammation. Even the slightest movement can trigger a wave of pain. The pain worsens progressively with time and reaches a point where the patient may not be able to move the affected limb at all.
A person afflicted with this type of arthritis may complain of severe joint pain around his or her knees, ankles, hips, wrist, shoulders, elbows, fingers or the foot.
Skin Warmth Over the Joint
The skin overlying the infected joint may become very warm to the touch. This sensation of heat or warmth around the joints is often accompanied by redness and inflammation.
One of the best ways to determine whether a patient is suffering from septic arthritis or not is to observe whether the joint pain and joint warmth is accompanied by other allied symptoms like fever, chills and chronic fatigue.
Along with joint pain, tenderness, warmth, swelling and stiffness; a person suffering from septic arthritis may also notice skin redness. Depending on the severity of the joint inflammation the skin redness may vary from a light reddish color to an angry deep reddish color. A person with septic arthritis may notice skin redness over his or her hips, knees, hands, elbows, shoulders, finger or the toes.
Joint Swelling and Tenderness
The joints will appear extremely swollen and will be painful to touch. Depending on the joint that has been affected by the pathogenic infection, a person with septic arthritis may notice swelling on his or her knees, fingers, fingers, shoulders, hips or the ankles.
An individual who is suffering from septic arthritis may notice a sudden rise in his or her body temperature. The elevated body temperature is attributed to the presence of infection causing microorganisms in the blood stream. The rise in body temperature may vary with age and a person’s level of immunity. Older people and those with weakened immune system may observe a marked rise in the basal body temperature.
The sudden rise in body temperature is in most cases accompanied by severe chills or a feeling of being cold. A person with a very bad case of septic arthritis may observe a sharp rise in his or her body temperature. When the body temperature rises significantly, it can cause the patient to feel cold. At this point the patient may start shivering uncontrollably.
One of the more atypical symptoms of septic arthritis is a feeling of extreme tiredness or fatigue. The body uses up all of the available energy to fight the disease causing microbes. This can cause a sudden dip in normal energy levels. Hence, a person may experience weakness or weariness. Under severe circumstances a person may complain of dizziness, chest pain, difficulty in breathing and nausea.
If a person is suffering from a severe form of septic arthritis, then he or she may complain of nausea. Nausea normally precedes vomiting and it is often accompanied by dry mouth, sweating, rapid pulse and feeling of light headedness.
If septic arthritis condition is left untreated and allowed to progress, the patient may start to vomit violently. Vomiting can cause loss of vital body fluids and this in turn can further deteriorate the patient’s condition.
A person with septic arthritis often complains of a feeling of general discomfort. These are just some of the common symptoms of septic or infectious arthritis.