Tuesday, December 25, 2012


Infectious arthritis caused by bacteria requires quick treatment

Infectious arthritis caused by bacteria requires quick treatment

By DR. KOMOROFF Universal Uclick 
Published: 12/24/2012  2:21 AM 
Last Modified: 12/24/2012  3:54 AM

Dear Doctor K: I saw my doctor for pain and inflammation in my knee. He said I have arthritis caused by a bacterial infection. Could this be true? 

Dear Reader: Wear and tear on a joint is the main cause of the most common type of arthritis, osteoarthritis. In rheumatoid arthritis and juvenile idiopathic arthritis, an overactive immune system causes joint inflammation. 

But joints also can become infected with bacteria and fungi. These microbes may directly infect the joint, for example, through a puncture wound or major injury. But more often, the infection spreads to a joint by traveling through the bloodstream from somewhere else in the body. Once the microbe reaches the joint, it can multiply. The immune system recognizes the invading foreigner and tries to wipe it out. The infection and the immune response cause warmth, pain, stiffness and swelling. 

Several types of bacteria can cause arthritis. The diagnosis of infectious arthritis is made by removing fluid from the joint through a needle. The microbe causing the infection can usually be identified in that fluid. 

Once diagnosed, you'll immediately begin antibiotic treatment. This should eliminate the infection and help prevent permanent joint damage if begun early enough. If your infection is advanced, or if joint damage has already occurred, you may need to be hospitalized. 

At the hospital, your affected joint can be drained. Sometimes fluid is repeatedly removed with a needle and syringe. In other cases, a surgeon needs to open the joint and place a drain in it to let the joint fluid constantly leak out of the body. You can also receive antibiotics intravenously if necessary. If your joint is seriously damaged, you may need surgery to remove damaged tissue and reconstruct the joint. 

Often you need to briefly immobilize your affected joint while recovering from the infection. But it's best to become active again as soon as you are able.


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