Bacterial Joint Inflammation: The Facts

joint inflammation

Bacterial Joint Inflammation: The Facts

A bacterial joint inflammation is an infection in the joint caused by a bacteria that spreads from another part of the body. These infections can progress to arthritis either directly or indirectly and cause pain and swelling in the joints.

Symptoms of bacterial joint inflammation include:

-Severe pain in the joint

-Redness and swelling of the joint

-Chills and fever

-Inability to move the area of the infected joint

The most commonly affected joints are the knee, ankle or foot. In most cases, the infection begins in another area of the body and travels through the bloodstream to the joint. In other cases, the infection may enter directly into the joint through a joint injury or rarely, during surgery or joint injections.Once the infection enters the joint, the leukocytes (cells of the immune system in charge of eliminating the infection), create clusters, causing joint inflammation.

What are some of the most common bacteria that cause joint inflammation?

-Gonococcus: bacteria that causes a sexually transmitted disease called gonorrhea.

-Streptococcus: responsible for a sore throat and the cause of rheumatic fever.

-Staphylococcus: a common cause of sinusitis and dermatological infections.

-Pneumococcus: a bacterium responsible for pneumonia.

-Borrelia burgdorferi: a spirochete that is transmitted by deer and causes Lyme disease.

How to Diagnose Joint Inflammation

Considering all possible causes of joint inflammation, the first and most important steps in diagnosis are the patient’s medical history and physical examination results. Often the specific symptoms that a person manifests can guide the doctor to a particular diagnosis. For example, if the cause is due to gonococcus infection is usually accompanied by genital secretion, reddish marks along the tendons and small blisters with pus. Arthritis of Lyme disease often presents a ring-like rash and a red center similar to a bull’s eye at the site of the tick bite and other symptoms including fever, malaise, inflammation of the heart and neurological symptoms such as pain in the head.

Typically, doctors confirm the diagnosis through a blood test or by taking fluid samples from the joints and examining for infection.If the infection is caused by bacteria, joint fluid tests can help identify the bacteria in question and thus the antibiotic suitable for treatment.

Treatment Options

Treatment depends on the infectious agent and other factors. If the infection is indeed caused by bacteria, treatment usually consists of two to four weeks of intravenous antibiotics sometimes followed by a high dose of oral antibiotics for several weeks depending on the response. More difficult cases require frequent drainage of synovial fluid from the joints or surgery to remove fluid or infected tissue. Non-steroidal drugs and other analgesics may also be used to mitigate symptoms.

Treatment also involves resting and protecting the joint during the severe phase. Splint limits the movement and helps reduce pain and tissue damage.Once the infection is controlled, doctors often recommend physical therapy to build muscle strength and increase motion in affected joints.

If your doctor prescribes an antibiotic for joint inflammation, it is important to complete the treatment completely, even when the inflammation seems to disappear. If the symptoms subside, the bacteria can stay and, unless completely destroyed, re-infect the joint.

Always seek medical help for any suspected infection as this will cut the chances of developing a joint inflammation. Getting the treatment on time reduces the impact of the infection and helps a faster recovery and with fewer side effects.

Dr. Sue Reddy specializes in the treatment of infectious disease among many other specialties. She understands what is required to live a healthy, active life. Please feel free to take a look around her website and if you feel she provides services you may be interested in, give Dr. Reddy a call. Her staff would be more than happy to set up an appointment and answer any questions you may have.

Dr. Reddy is currently conducting a joint infection study. If you are dealing with issues concerning joint infection, you may qualify to participate in our clinical research study. Study related medication, procedures, and doctor’s visits are FREE for clinical trial participants, and you will also be compensated for your participation. For more information, please contact Barbara, our Research Coordinator, at 714-500-8650.