Septic Arthritis Treatment

Joint Drainage

During the first five to seven days of treatment for septic arthritis, the joint may be drained by inserting a needle into the joint space and removing infected fluid (a procedure known as aspiration). It may also be washed out with a sterile solution.
 
If an infection is still present, the healthcare provider may recommend a procedure that uses a special camera (arthroscopy) or surgery. Children with septic arthritis almost always require surgery because pus can rapidly damage the cartilage. Doctors may also recommend surgery to treat cases of septic arthritis affecting the hip.
 

Other Recommendations for Septic Arthritis Treatment

During the first stages of septic arthritis treatment, the joint may be splinted to help rest it and provide support. Once symptoms start to improve, passive movements of the joint are started to prevent stiffness; however, weight bearing should be avoided until the pain and inflammation have improved.
 
If septic arthritis occurs following knee replacement or hip replacement, the artificial joint is most often replaced.
 

What Is the Prognosis for Septic Arthritis?

With treatment, the prognosis for septic arthritis is usually good. Factors that may increase the risk for a poor outcome include:
 
  • Age (young children and infants have a greater risk for a poor outcome)
  • Associated osteomyelitis (infection of bone)
  • Failure to receive treatment within seven days of the onset of the condition
  • Which joint or joints are affected (people with septic arthritis in the hip are more likely to have a poor outcome).
     
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