Pediatric septic arthritis is an orthopedic emergency. Here’s everything you need to know about this condition.
Septic arthritis is the inflammation of joints that is caused by a bacterial or fungal infection. Usually, this infection reaches the joints via the bloodstream, but at times it can also happen as a result of an injury, surgery, or injection. The bacteria or other tiny disease-causing organisms (microorganisms) then invade the joint tissues (synovial membrane) and joint (synovial) fluid. Also known as infectious or bacterial arthritis, this disease can affect any joint in your body, although the most commonly affected areas are the joints of the hip, knees, shoulder, and wrist.
Older adults and infants are at a higher risk of developing septic arthritis, which can be an intensely painful condition. Often, the cause of this disease is unknown, and the infection results in the buildup of pus or fluid within the joint (effusion). In the absence of early and aggressive treatment, septic arthritis can cause further problems like severe damage to the bone and cartilage within the joint. This kind of arthritis often progresses in a quick manner.
Pediatric septic arthritis can occur at any age, but is more common in pre-school infants and toddlers. Around 50 percent of the cases of hip septic arthritis occur in children who are younger than 2 years of age. Septic arthritis in children is easily missed, and is a challenging medical problem as the signs and symptoms may be either quite subtle or confused with other common health conditions. However, this disease, especially when it occurs in the hip, is an orthopedic emergency that needs prompt recognition and treatment. Delay in the diagnosis and treatment of septic arthritis of the hip may cause irreversible damage to the joint of your child.
If your kid or a child who is close to you has been diagnosed with septic arthritis, knowing what this condition entails and what you need to do is the best way to tackle the issue. Also, even if your child does not have this disease, being aware of the signs and keeping an eye out for those can make a big difference in early diagnosis and handling septic arthritis.
Children who have septic arthritis often suffer from an acute onset of pain in a joint, limited movement, and fever. Inflammation of the joint and intense pain are the characteristic symptoms of this disease. Also, parents of children with septic arthritis often report that the children cannot bear weight and move the affected joint or limb. The symptoms of septic arthritis start rapidly, these are some of the signs to look out for:
If you notice one or more of these symptoms in your child, consult your family doctor or the closest emergency room to get these checked and determine if the child has developed septic arthritis. If you happen to live in an area where medical help is not available close by, seek advice on the telephone from the nearest orthopedic service. In most children, only a single joint is affected by septic arthritis (especially the hip, knee, or elbow); but an infant or a newborn child is more likely to develop the infection in multiple joints (polyarticular disease).
In most cases, your doctor may suspect septic arthritis in your child based on the rapid onset of the symptoms, and may use different tests to confirm it. Here are some of the diagnostic procedures that doctors use to determine whether or not your child has septic arthritis:
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