Infection of Joints (Septic Arthritis)

Children are highly susceptible for joint infections. Any joint of body can catch infection but most common is hip joint. The infection of joints or septic arthritis is caused by staphylococcus aureus and similar bacteria found in living environments. Joint infection adversely affects the child’s growth and leads to physical dysfunction. It should be treated as an emergency basis.


Poor hygiene and low immunity is the two most common reasons for catching the infection in children. Although there are many other reasons for joint infection. Most common bacteria are staphylococcus aureus but other bacteria can do the same found in living environments, and can infect the joint of young children easily. The bacteria further enter into the child’s body in a number of ways. After entering into the child’s body, the bacteria reach his joint through bloodstream and multiply rapidly. Hence, the parents must treat the joint infection without any delay to boost the child’s growth and development.


The symptoms of joint infection (septic arthritis) may differ from one child to another. The normal symptoms of infection of joints are fever, pain, and difficulty in moving the infected joints. Some children even feel lethargic and irritable, poor diet etc when their joints are infected by bacteria. Hence, it becomes essential for parents to get the child’s infected joints examined by an experienced paediatric orthopaedician without any delay.


Clinical examination is most important part of diagnosis. A skilled pediatric orthopaedician always examine the child’s infected joints after discussing the symptoms and medical history. They even ask the child to move the infected joint, and observe if the child experiences pain while moving the infected body part. They even identify the exact cause of joint infection based on blood test or testing the fluids/tissues from the infected area. Sometimes we need X-ray, MRI scan, or ultrasound to decide joint collection and exact status of the joints.


It’s a medical emergency. If surgeon feels that there is a collection inside the joint then he usually aspirate the joint with thick bore needle to confirm the pus. If there is pus in the aspiration then need to operate the child.

If there is no or minimal pus inside the joint on aspiration then surgeon usually put the child on antibiotic and analgesic. Good dietary supplements are most important part of the treatment.


If treated timely and correctly then results are good. Neglected or delayed case may results in septic sequel like damage of joint with secondary changes. Parents should take timely consultation with treating physician.


Q: – Why it happened in my child?

A: – Poor diet and poor hygiene two most common reason for low immunity of child and reason to catch joint infection.

Q: – Is surgery really needed??

A: – Yes, if joint aspirate has pus. We need to drain all pus from joint.

Q: – How long is the hospital stay?

A: – Usually three to five days (may vary) for IV antibiotics.

Q: – What are complications?

A: – If not treated timely, may results in joint damage and lead to septic sequel.