Infections of joints are emergencies, as prolonged infections leads to destruction of joint cartilage coating the ends of bones. Infections can be caused by direct innoculation of bacteria into a joint, or spread from the bloodstream from a distant site (such as a cut on the skin, or an ulcer in the mouth). An infection in a joint causes severe pain, swelling, redness and stiffness.
Effective treatment of an infected joint is usually both an urgent operation and antibiotics. An Infectious Diseases specialist may also be consulted to aid in antibiotic management.
An infected joint is treated with an urgent operation to ‘washout’ the joint. This may be done either keyhole (arthroscopically) or via an incision. Following the operation, antibiotics are required via a drip. Occasionally multiple washouts are needed to thoroughly get rid of the infection.
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