Septic arthritis, commonly termed as infectious or bacterial arthritis is a serious medical condition marked by inflammation of the joint owing to the development of an infection. Microbial invasion of the anatomical space in the joints (mostly caused by bacteria) usually targets a single, large joint in the human body; for example knee or hip joint. In rare cases, rapid progression of the causative agent may inflict more than one joint.
Bacterial species, mostly Staphylococcus aureus gain access to the joint area, either through the bloodstream (commonly seen in children), resulting from a wound injury or a rare complication of joint surgery. Other foreign invaders that may cause this type of arthritis include viruses (such as hepatitis A, B, C, herpes virus etc) and fungi.
The clinical features of septic arthritis initiate at a quick pace, resulting in severe pain, swollen joints, fever, along with development of chills, localized rise in temperature and significantly restricted movement of the infected joint. Mostly, young children and older people are at an escalated risk of developing this uncommon form of arthritis. Also, diabetics, cancer patients or those with sexually transmitted diseases, like gonorrhea have increased susceptibility of incurring septic arthritis.
Information on How to Cure Septic Arthritis
Administration of Antibiotics
Initial antibiotic treatment must be initiated empirically without any delay (even prior to the results of blood culture). The choice of antibiotic drug depends on a number of factors, such as the age of the patient, potential portal of infection, medical history of diabetes etc, as well as the dubious pathogen responsible for septic arthritis. In most cases, antibiotics are given via the parenteral route, especially in the initial phases of the antibiotic regime (for a minimum span of two weeks).
In case of infection caused by Methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus, a prolonged treatment consisting of antibiotic administration via the intravenous route is recommended for a duration of four weeks. It has been observed that antibiotic therapy succeeds in controlling the spread of infection, which can be concluded by the reduction in the number of white blood cells that fight infective organisms.
Drainage of the Infected Joint Fluid
In uncomplicated cases of septic arthritis, drainage can be performed using needle aspiration. Aspiration of the fluid accumulated in the joint space prevents further damage to the joint and tissues, whilst antibiotic coverage works in clearing off the infective agent. However, joints of hip or shoulder are not easy to aspirate.
In such locations, a small surgical procedure may need to be performed. Aspiration of the joint is carried out two or three times in a day, especially during the initial days of treatment. Following this procedure, the limb needs to be kept at a slight elevation, and adequate rest may also be recommended by the doctor for the purpose of quicker healing.
Immobilization of Joint
In many cases, immobilization of the affected joint (for the purpose of pain management) is not required after the initial few days. As the condition of the patient improves (about 5-7 days after initiation of treatment), gently mobilization of the joint can be attempted.
Majority of patients who are being treated for infectious arthritis may require aggressive physiotherapy so as to facilitate maximum functionality of the joint.
This also helps in preventing joint stiffness in the long run. Such therapy consists of different types of passive exercises that improve and maintain range of motion. The joint, however, must not be subjected to increased weight till the clinical signs resolve entirely.