Munson Health
Septic Arthritis

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by Kirchheimer S

(Bacterial Arthritis; Infectious Arthritis; Pyogenic Arthritis)



Septic arthritis develops when bacteria spreads from the source of infection through the bloodstream to a joint. It can result from:
  • Infection due to an injection
  • Surgery
  • Other infections
Septic arthritis can also be caused from injury or trauma. It can result from:
  • A penetration wound
  • An injury that affects the joint
  • Joint surgery/replacement
Septic arthritis can strike at any age. However, it occurs most often in children aged three and younger. In infants, the hip is a frequent site of infection. In toddlers, it is the shoulders, knees, and hips. In children, the most common bacterial causes are:
Septic arthritis rarely occurs from early childhood through adolescence. After that, it occurs more often. In adults, it most commonly affects weight-bearing joints, such as the knees. In adults, the most common causes are:
  • S. aureus
  • Neisseria gonorrhoeae—the bacteria that causes gonorrhea
Joint Damage in Knee
Knee arthitis
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Risk Factors

Factors that may increase your chance of developing septic arthritis include:


The Arthritis Foundation

National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Disease



Arthritis Society of Canada

Health Canada



Ernst AA, Weiss SJ, et al. Usefulness of CRP and ESR in predicting septic joints. South Med J. 2010;103(6):522-526.

Howard A, Wilson M. Septic arthritis in children. BMJ. 2010;341:c4407.

Ma L, Cranney A, et al. Acute monoarthritis: what is the cause of my patient's painful swollen joint? CMAJ. 2009;180(1):59-65.

Septic arthritis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: . Updated April 11, 2013. Accessed August 6, 2013.

Septic arthritis. Patient UK website. Available at Updated April 28, 2010. Accessed August 6, 2013.


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