Septic Arthritis

Symptoms of Septic Arthritis

Septic arthritis symptoms (along with their severity) can vary depending on a number of factors, including:
  • The age of the person
  • The joint or joints involved
  • The type of bacteria causing the condition
  • Other conditions the person may have.
Specific symptoms may include:
  • Severe pain within a joint. For septic arthritis in the hip, pain may be referred to the buttock, thigh, or knee
  • Swollen and/or hot joint
  • Decreased movement of the joint
  • A noticeable limp
  • Other common symptoms consistent with a bacterial infection, such as fever, cold sweats, chills, extreme tiredness, and lack of appetite. In infants, irritability may be a symptom of septic arthritis.
(Click Septic Arthritis Symptoms to learn more about symptoms of septic arthritis, including which joints tend to be affected.)

Making a Diagnosis

There is no one specific test that can be used for diagnosing septic arthritis. Therefore, in order to make a diagnosis of septic arthritis, the healthcare provider will usually ask a number of questions, perform a physical exam, and recommend certain tests.
Tests that your healthcare provider may recommend include:
  • X-rays or other imaging tests
  • Synovial fluid testing
  • Spinal tap.
Before making a diagnosis, the healthcare provider will also consider other conditions that share a number of symptoms with septic arthritis. Some of these conditions include:
(Click Diagnosing Septic Arthritis for more information.)
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Bacterial Arthritis

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