Joint Infections — What You Need to Know

What are joint infections?

A joint infection, otherwise known as septic arthritis, is the inflammation of an affected joint as the body responds to an infection. Joint infections typically affect large joints in the body such as the knee or hip, however, in some instances the infection may affect several joints.

Do I have a joint infection?

Is your affected joint warmer to the touch?
Infected joints will occasionally feel warm due to the higher blood flow.

Have you recently had a surgical operation?
Those who have recently had surgery, especially joint replacement surgery, are at a higher risk for joint infections.

Did you stay in the hospital after your surgery?
If you recently had an artificial knee or hip replacement surgery and your doctor asked you to stay in the hospital for additional recovery time, it could be because you developed an infection during surgery. If this is the case, you should speak to a lawyer immediately to find out if you deserve compensation for your injury.

Only a doctor can determine if you have septic arthritis. However, you may have an infection if you suffer from any of the following symptoms:

• Intense pain in your joint/joints
• Difficulty moving or bending at the joint due to pain or swelling
• Fever symptoms such as fatigue or chills.

Why do I have joint pain? How did I get a joint infection?

These infections can occur after a surgical procedure or from an untreated open wound.
Many of those suffering from joint infections contracted their infection after a surgical operation.

How does this occur? One of the most common complications that arises during surgery is that the patient can become hypothermic in which patient’s body temperature can drop up to 35 degrees in 30 minutes. This can happen for a variety of reasons—anesthesia, IV fluids and the cold environment of the operating room. Forced-air warming systems are employed to warm the patient, however recent studies have shown that these systems greatly increase the patient’s risk for a joint infection.

What factors increase the risk of infections?

Age — Young children and the elderly are more susceptible.
Surgery — Individuals who have recently had a surgical operation, especially a hip or knee operation, may be at a high risk for a joint infection.
Pre-existing conditions — Individuals who have weakened immune systems as a result of diabetes, drug use, immune deficiency disorders, cancer or other conditions which lower one’s immunity are more likely to contract a joint infection.

What are the different types of infections?

Joint infections are caused by a bacterial, fungal, or viral infection.

Bacteria — Haemophilus influenza, staphylococcus, andstreptococcus.
Virus — Hepatitis A, B, and C, Parvovirus B19, Herpes viruses, HIV (AIDS virus), HTLV-1, Adenovirus, Coxsackie viruses, or Mumps
Fungus — Histoplasma, coccidiomyces, and blastomyces.

The source of your infection, whether bacterial, fungal, or viral, is best left to a doctor for diagnosis.

How are joint infections treated?

Once a doctor has diagnosed a joint infection, treatment may proceed. Basic treatment options include anti-bacterials and/or fluid drainage. Fluid drainage may be necessary depending on the current condition of the infection. However, depending on the type and severity of the infection, there can be a multitude of other treatment options, some involving surgery and/or extensive inpatient care. If not treated, joint infections can develop serious health problems.

What should I do now?

If you believe you might have a joint infection, visit your doctor for a medical diagnosis. Infections spread quickly and delays will lead to complications and potential long-term health conditions.

If you or your doctor believe your joint infection was the result of a surgery, call an attorney. Currently, major mass tort lawsuits are being filed on behalf of individuals who have contracted joint infections as the result of surgeries to compensate them for their injuries.