Treatment

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 some 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.

Antibiotics

To select the most effective medication, your doctor must identify the microbe 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 from two to six weeks. Antibiotics carry a risk of side effects, including nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Allergic reactions also can occur. Ask your doctor about what side effects to expect from your medication.

Dec. 19, 2015
References
  1. Goldenberg DL, et al. Septic arthritis in adults. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Oct. 26, 2015.
  2. Imboden JB, et al. Septic arthritis. In: Current Rheumatology Diagnosis & Treatment. 3rd ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2013. http://www.accessmedicine.com. Accessed Oct. 25, 2015.
  3. Krogstad P. Bacterial arthritis: Clinical features and diagnosis in infants and children. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Oct. 26, 2015.