Infectious Arthritis: Causes and Symptoms

What is Infectious Arthritis?

Infectious arthritis (also known as septic arthritis) is a form of arthritis due to infection in the fluid and tissues of a joint. Infectious arthritis is usually caused by bacteria, viruses or fungi. The infecting organisms may reach the joint through the bloodstream or from nearby infected tissue. Direct infection is possible if the joint is contaminated during surgery or by an injection. infectious arthritis causes

Bacteria are the most common cause of infectious arthritis. Many different kinds of bacteria can infect a joint, including: gonococcus (bacterium which causes gonorrhea), certain Gram-positive bacteria, certain Gram-negative bacteria, spirochetes and Mycobacterium tuberculosis (the main cause of tuberculosis). The infection may depend on a person’s age. Infant and young children are often infected by bacteria known as gram-negative bacilli. Gonococci, staphylococci, and streptococci most often infect older children and adults.

Infectious arthritis caused by viruses is usually produced by a viral infection that is already present in a person’s body. Viruses -like the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and those that cause rubella, mumps, and hepatitis B- may cause joint infection in people of any age.

Fungi are the least common cause of infectious arthritis. This type of infectious arthritis usually develops very slowly. The fungi may be found in soil, bird droppings and certain plants (especially roses). Fungi that can cause infectious arthritis include histoplasma, coccidiomyces, and blastomyces.

The symptoms of infectious arthritis

Infectious arthritis can happen to anyone, but people who have other form of arthritis (including rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, or arthritis from injury) are more likely to get it than others. The infecting organisms can invade the damaged joints easier than the healthy ones. People with other diseases, such as diabetes, anemia, severe kidney disease, immune deficiency disorders, some forms of cancer, alcoholism, and sickle cell disease, may share the same risk of developing infectious arthritis. Certain medications can also decrease a person’s ability to resist infections. People who receive repeated injections of corticosteroids into the same joint have an increased risk of getting infectious arthritis.

The symptoms of this disease may include redness and warmth in the infected joint, swelling, stiffness, fever, chills, and joint pain. Joints that can be affected by infectious arthritis are the knee, shoulder, wrist, hip, elbow, and the joints of the fingers. In people with higher risk of joint infection, unusual joints can be infected, including the joint where the collar bone (clavicle) meets the breastbone (sternum). Infectious arthritis usually only affects one joint, but sometimes two or three joints can also become involved.


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