Treatments and drugs

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Doctors rely on joint drainage and antibiotic drugs to treat septic arthritis.

Joint drainage

Removing the infected joint fluid is crucial. Drainage methods include:

  • Needle. In many cases, your doctor can withdraw the infected fluid with a needle inserted into the joint space.
  • Scope procedure. In arthroscopy (ahr-THROS-kuh-pee), a flexible tube with a video camera at its tip is placed in your joint through a small incision. Suction and drainage tubes are then inserted through small incisions around your joint.
  • Open surgery. Some joints, such as the hip, are more difficult to drain with a needle or arthroscopy, so an open surgical procedure might be necessary.

Antibiotic drugs

To select the most effective medication, your doctor must identify the specific microbe that's causing your infection. Antibiotics are usually given through a vein in your arm at first. Later, you may be able to switch to oral antibiotics. Typically, treatment lasts about two to six weeks. Antibiotics carry a risk of side effects, including nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Allergic reactions also can occur. Talk to your doctor about the side effects to expect from your specific medication.

Jan. 17, 2013