Septic (Infectious) Arthritis

Introduction

Septic arthritis, also known as infectious arthritis, is a condition characterized by the inflammation of a joint due to a bacterial, viral, or fungal infection. It can be a serious and potentially life-threatening condition if not promptly diagnosed and treated. Here’s a closer look at its causes, symptoms, and the role of physiotherapy in its treatment:

Causes of Septic (Infectious) Arthritis Bacterial Infections Viral Infections Fungal Infections

Septic arthritis is typically caused by the introduction of pathogens into a joint. The common causes include:

 

  1. Bacterial Infections: Most cases of septic arthritis are caused by bacteria. The bacteria can enter the joint through several means, such as through the bloodstream (hematogenous spread), direct injury or trauma to the joint, or following joint surgery or injections.

 

  1. Viral Infections: While less common, certain viruses can cause infectious arthritis. Examples include the parvovirus B19, hepatitis C, and HIV.

 

  1. Fungal Infections: Fungal infections can also lead to septic arthritis, although they are relatively rare. Fungal pathogens, such as Candida or Aspergillus, may invade the joint.

Symptoms of Septic Arthritis Joint Pain Fever Joint Stiffness Systemic Symptoms Joint Effusion

The symptoms of septic arthritis can be acute and severe and may include:

 

  1. Joint Pain: Intense pain in the affected joint, often accompanied by swelling, redness, and warmth.

 

  1. Fever: A high fever is common in septic arthritis, as it reflects the body’s response to infection.

 

  1. Joint Stiffness: Reduced range of motion in the infected joint due to pain and swelling.

 

  1. Systemic Symptoms: Patients may experience general malaise, fatigue, and chills, which are signs of systemic infection.

 

  1. Joint Effusion: Accumulation of fluid within the joint, known as effusion, is a characteristic feature.

Effective Treatments for Septic (Infectious) Arthritis Pain Management Range of Motion Exercises Strengthening Exercises Functional Rehabilitation Education Education

Pain Management

Physiotherapists can use various modalities such as heat and cold therapy, ultrasound, and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) to manage pain and reduce inflammation in the affected joint.

Pain Management
Range of Motion Exercises

As the infection is controlled, gentle range of motion exercises are initiated to prevent joint stiffness and maintain flexibility. Passive and active-assistive exercises may be used to gradually restore joint mobility.

Range of Motion Exercises
Strengthening Exercises

Once pain and inflammation are under control, targeted strengthening exercises can be prescribed to improve joint stability and function. These exercises help prevent muscle atrophy and joint weakness.

Strengthening Exercises
Functional Rehabilitation

Physiotherapists work with patients to regain functional abilities, such as walking or using the affected joint in daily activities.

Functional Rehabilitation
Education

Education is a key component of physiotherapy for septic arthritis. Patients are educated about their condition, the importance of compliance with medication, and the exercises they need to perform at home for continued rehabilitation.

Education
Assistive Devices

In some cases, assistive devices like crutches or braces may be recommended to support the joint during recovery and prevent further damage.

Assistive Devices
Ergonomic Assessment

If the pain is work-related, your physiotherapist may assess your workstation and provide ergonomic recommendations to prevent future injuries.

Ergonomic Assessment
Activity Modification

Your physiotherapist may advise you on modifying your activities or sports technique to prevent further strain on your elbow.

Activity Modification
Home Exercise Program

You’ll likely be given a set of exercises to perform at home to complement your in-clinic treatments.

Home Exercise Program
Education

Understanding the cause of your elbow pain and learning proper techniques for activities and exercises can be a crucial part of your treatment.

Education

Septic Arthritis Physiotherapy Treatment

It’s crucial to emphasize that the primary treatment for septic arthritis is medical, involving antibiotics and drainage of the infected joint. Physiotherapy is typically initiated once the infection is under control and as part of a multidisciplinary approach to manage pain, restore joint function, and facilitate the patient’s recovery. Always consult with a healthcare professional for a thorough evaluation and personalized treatment plan for septic arthritis.

Physiotherapy plays an important role in the management of septic arthritis, but it should be introduced as part of a comprehensive treatment plan, which typically includes antibiotics, joint drainage, and other medical interventions.

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