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What causes septic arthritis?

Diana Meeks
Diana Meeks on behalf of Sigma Nursing
Family Practitioner

Septic arthritis is caused by bacteria, and less commonly viruses or fungi, that spread from an infection to the joint. Joints can also be infected during surgery or through an injury. When the joint is infected, the joint becomes inflamed. Infection by bacteria may also cause the cartilage in the joint to break down.

It is possible to develop septic arthritis as an adult. Many of the risk factors for septic arthritis—artificial joints, diabetes or a weak immune system—are found in adults. If you believe you are suffering the symptoms of septic arthritis, contact your doctor.

If you are suffering from an infection, it's important to be careful. If you injure a joint, you are at a higher risk for developing septic arthritis. Additionally, an infection can be spread to the joint during surgery or an injury. If you have a compromised immune system or another type of joint condition, you are also at a higher risk for septic arthritis.

If you are undergoing surgery, talk to your doctor about how to avoid septic arthritis.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.