What is Septic Arthritis?

Septic arthritis, commonly known as bacterial arthritis, is local joint inflammation caused by bacteria infection, usually large local joint such as knee or hip, but in some cases when the infection goes rapid, multiple joints may be affected.


Septic arthritis is caused by bacteria infection. There are various ways that bacteria can infect the joints, such as through open wound or even from another area of the body itelf. The disease does not need special type of bacteria to infect the joint, because some common types of bacteria can also cause the inflammation such as Haemophilus influenza, Staphylococcus sp., and Streptococcus sp. In most cases, bacteria will use human blood stream to come to and attack the joint, but bacteria is not the only micro organism that can cause this disease. In other cases, we realize that viruses can also bring inflammation and pain at the joint. We do not know all of them, but until today, at least we know some of them, such as hepatitis viruses, parvovirus B19, herpes viruses, adenovirus, ebola, AIDS, mumps, and coxsakie viruses. There are also some reports that identify the existence of some fungi as the bearer of septic arthritis, such as histoplasma, coccidiomyces, and blastomyces. Most of them usually infect human blood cell, but they can also use the blood stream to attack other parts of the body and bring more damages.


Septic arthritis can infect everyone, but there are some  who has higher risk of being infected than others. This include young children, elders, people with open wounds, people with weakened immune system whether caused by lack of nutrition or disease such as HIV/AIDS, and people who have some types of other disease such as cancer, diabetes, drugs abuse, rheumatic etc. However, this does not mean that anyone who does not have one of them can live safe without worrying about this disease. A good and well-organized prevention is essentially needed to prevent further damage of this disease since the moment when the first symptom seen or diagnosed.


There are various symptoms to recognize and identify the existence of septic arthritis. At the early stage, they usually attack the patient with very intense muscular pain, joint swelling, and fever. Entering the later stage, more symptoms can be easily identified such as chills, fatigue, weakened body, severe pain, inability to move the limb using infected joint, etc.


Once the symptoms are recognized, it is very important to have medical diagnosis over the patient’s condition, using arthrocentesis. In order to get accurate data about septic arthritis, the procedure will need a sample for laboratory test, using fluid taken from infected joint and put into a needle. During the test, the white blood cell amount will be compared with normal synovial fluid. Furthermore, the test will also monitor any bacterial growth at the sample. Using both data, doctor will be able to determine the specific type of organism that cause the disease and the current status of the disease, and treat accordingly.

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