Infectious/Septic Arthritis Treatment

Infectious/Septic arthritis is also known as septic arthritis.  Per the term arthritis, it is a form of joint inflammation.  This type of joint inflammation is caused by fungal, viral or bacterial infection. It is a serious form of arthritis where there is great potential for extreme joint damage.  In cases where there is bacterial arthritis, the patient becomes in danger of possibly life threatening illnesses and requires urgent treatment.

Who’s at Risk for Infectious Arthritis?

Everyone is at risk for infectious arthritis, but there are a few factors that can put you at a higher risk.


  • Joint injury
  • A wound that suddenly becomes infected


  • Tuberculosis
  • Food poisoning
  • Sore throat that has become infected
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Abscesses
  • An infection in the bone close to a joint


  • Intravenous drugs
  • Joint surgery of larger joints (i.e. hip or knee)
  • Steroid injections taking place near a joint


Septic arthritis is caused by a bacteria which enters the body through the nose, skin, throat, ears or an open wound. The infection flows through the bloodstream and finds a home in the joints.

It is possible the patient has already been sick from an infection found elsewhere in the body before it resides in your joints. In most cases the cause of infectious arthritis is staphylococcus (staph) or streptococcus bacteria.

How to Screen/Diagnose

  • Arthritis Consultants of Eastern Tennessee do a blood test to assess if you have had an increase in white blood cells and bacteria.
  • An x-ray will identify whether or not there is swelling in a joint and/or throughout soft tissue surrounding the joint.
  • A procedure called arthrocentesis also shows evidence of bacteria.  Your doctor will insert a needle into the joint and take a sample of synovial fluid. The fluid will typically be clear when extracted.  However, a bacterial infection will change the color of the fluid or possibly the consistency or makeup. Arthritis Consultants of Eastern TN use your blood sample to determine your white blood cell count and the type of bacteria.


Infectious arthritis is typically treated through approximately a 1-2 week stay in the hospital.  The patient is given intravenous antibiotics to help kill the bacterial infection. After leaving the hospital, the patient is then given antibiotics to take orally for around 4 weeks post-hospital. The bacteria is difficult to treat because it is resistant to most antibiotics. The patient should find themselves completely recovered at the end of their course of treatment.

Contact us Today

Arthritis Consultants of East Tennessee specializes in rheumatologic care, which is the practice of assessing joints, muscles, and bones for pain, swelling, stiffness, and deformity. Contact us or call 865-503-2001 today to find out how we can help you get your life back on track.

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