Bacteria is the most common cause of this infection. Viruses and fungi can also cause infection.
The infection may be started by an organism:
- That has entered the blood from an infection somewhere else in the body
- That entered the blood from IV drug use
- That is outside the body and entered through a wound or incision from surgery
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This problem is more common in older adults. Things that may raise the risk in adults are:
- Taking medicines or having health problems that weaken the immune system, such as HIV
- A history of joint problems or having other types of arthritis
- Joint replacement or organ transplant surgery
- Long-term health problems, such as diabetes
- Recent joint injections
- A history of IV drug use
This problem is also more common in children who are male and those who are under 3 years old. Things that may raise the risk in children are:
- A weakened immune system
- Respiratory distress syndrome
- Having an umbilical artery catheter
- History of a urinary tract infection
The knee, hip, shoulder, ankle, elbow, and wrist are the most common sites in adults. Problems may be:
- A warm, red, painful joint
- Joint swelling
- Problems moving the joint or limb
The knee and hip are the most common sites for SA in children. Problems may be:
- Crying when a joint is moved, such as during a diaper change
- Warmth and redness
- Problems moving a joint or limb
- Problems walking
You will be asked about you or your child’s symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. Your doctor may refer you to a specialist.
Tests may be done to look for signs of infection. This can be done with:
- Joint fluid tests
- Blood tests
Images of the area may be taken. This can be done with:
- MRI scan
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
Edits to original content made by Denver Health.
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a (Bacterial Arthritis; Pyogenic Arthritis)
Arthritis Foundation http://www.arthritis.org
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases http://www.niams.nih.gov
The Arthritis Society http://www.arthritis.ca
Health Canada https://www.canada.ca
Ross JJ. Septic Arthritis of Native Joints. Infect Dis Clin North Am. 2017 Jun;31(2):203-218.
Septic arthritis. Patient UK website. Available at: http://patient.info/health/septic-arthritis-leaflet. Accessed September 25, 2020.
Septic arthritis in adults. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/septic-arthritis-in-adults . Accessed September 25, 2020.
Septic arthritis in children. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/septic-arthritis-in-children . Accessed September 25, 2020.