Septic arthritis, also sometimes referred to as bacterial arthritis, reactive arthritis, along with several other clinical names, is a type of infection that affects the joint spaces of the body. The infection can be caused by a number of different types of microorganisms, such as bacteria. The most common culprit is the bacteria known as staphylococcus aureus. Of all the joints in the body, the knee joint is the one that is most commonly affected by this type of infection.
There are a number of different ways that organisms can enter the joints, including by means of a consequence from a surgical incision. It is estimated that twenty thousand cases result in the United States every year.
There are three main symptoms of septic arthritis that patients should be aware of. These include: a spike in temperature above one hundred and one degree Fahrenheit, joint swelling, and sharp pain in the joint especially in the days immediately following surgery.
The issue of septic arthritis is most definitely an emergency medical condition that needs to be addressed immediately. Without prompt medical attention, including a proper diagnosis (and in some cases even with prompt medical attention), the infection can become so severe that it damages the articular cartilage and can lead to infections of the blood. When this happens serious injuries and even death can occur.
As soon as septic arthritis is suspected or symptoms are present, the surgeon should arrange to perform an arthrocentesis. This is a type of procedure that removes fluid from the space in the joint. The fluid is then sent to a laboratory so that a culture can be performed. Since joint infections can spread quickly and become so serious, antibiotics are often administered before the culture results are returned. If there is an infection found, the fluid should be drained by means of an incision and all infected tissue should be removed.
As previously mentioned, septic arthritis usually causes severe discomfort in the affected joint, swelling and fever. Other symptoms of note include: poor appetite, tachycardia (otherwise known as a rapid heartbeat), warmth to the area that has been affected, irritability, and malaise.
If you are currently taking other medications to help control arthritis pain and discomfort, the severe pain associated with septic arthritis may not be felt as much because medication often masks the pain as well as the elevated body temperature.
Adults most commonly find their knees are the most affected by the condition of septic arthritis, and in some cases the joints of the arms as well. Children are most often affected in the area of their hips. Septic arthritis in the hip region can cause children to have to hold their hips in a fixed position in order to avoid any type of movement, which causes pain.
More rare cases of septic arthritis can affect the neck, back, and head.
It is critical that treatment for septic arthritis be prompt and make use of the proper antibiotics as well as drainage of the fluid from the joints. This combination often is enough to resolve the infection. That being said, if treatment is put off for any reason, the infection can spread which can cause permanent joint damage and degeneration.
In addition to joint damage and degeneration, other complications of septic arthritis include joint deformity and osteoarthritis. There are even cases that require the joint to be completely reconstructed surgically. In the event that the infection impacts a prosthetic joint, it may be necessary to replace that prosthetic joint.
To help make a definitive and correct septic arthritis diagnosis, a joint fluid analysis (as discussed above) needs to be completed. This will provide medical staff with the information needed to determine the exact bacterium that is causing the infection so that proper treatment can be administered. The fluid around your joints, also known as synovial fluid, typically appears thick and clear. When bacteria have affected this fluid, the color, volume, makeup, and consistency of the synovial fluid will change. In addition to fluid tests, blood tests should also be ordered. This is done to help medical professionals determine if bacteria have made their way to the blood stream. Furthermore, imaging tests are also commonly used. Tests such as x-rays or other forms of imaging are done to determine the extent of damage that may have been done to the joint.
Any time you or someone you know has been injured following a surgical procedure, such as is the case with septic arthritis, it is important that you contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible. These types of injuries can be avoided, and they should be avoided at all costs. In the event that a complication such as septic arthritis does occur, it is important that the proper medical attention be given in a timely manner. Delaying treatment for any reason, or making an incorrect diagnosis, is another type of medical negligence or malpractice. If this happens, you also need to contact a personal injury attorney promptly to help protect your legal rights.
Personal injury attorneys who specialize in the area of medical negligence and malpractice know the ins and outs of this area of the law extremely well. He or she will work hard to seek the compensation you deserve, and help you to cover past, present, and future medical bills. Compensation can also be obtained for loss of income, loss of use, and pain and suffering. In some cases, punitive damages may also be sought in order to punish those who caused the initial harm.
These cases can be quite complex in nature and should not be handled on your own; professional legal assistance provides your best bet for a positive outcome. Since personal injury attorneys do not typically require any type of payment upfront, you will not have to worry about funding your claim as it progresses through the legal system. This can provide a great deal of comfort, and allow you to focus on your personal health and recovery.
Source by Chris N. Jackson