Most kinds of arthritis cause pain and swelling in your joints. Joints are places where two bones meet, such as your elbow or knee. Infectious arthritis is an infection in the joint. The infection comes from a bacterial, viral, or fungal infection that spreads from another part of the body. Symptoms of infectious arthritis include
- Intense pain in the joint
- Joint redness and swelling
- Chills and fever
- Inability to move the area with the infected joint
One type of infectious arthritis is reactive arthritis. The reaction is to an infection somewhere else in your body. The joint is usually the knee, ankle, or toe. Sometimes, reactive arthritis is set off by an infection in the bladder, or in the urethra, which carries urine out of the body. In women, an infection in the vagina can cause the reaction. For both men and women, it can start with bacteria passed on during sex. Another form of reactive arthritis starts with eating food or handling something that has bacteria on it.
To diagnose infectious arthritis, your health care provider may do tests of your blood, urine, and joint fluid. Treatment includes medicines and sometimes surgery.
- Septic Arthritis (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research)
Diagnosis and Tests
- Bacteria Culture Test (National Library of Medicine) Also in Spanish
- Blood Culture Test (American Association for Clinical Chemistry)
- Bone X-Ray (Radiography) (American College of Radiology, Radiological Society of North America) Also in Spanish
- C-Reactive Protein (CRP) Test (National Library of Medicine) Also in Spanish
- Complete Blood Count (CBC) (National Library of Medicine) Also in Spanish
- HLA-B27 Test (American Association for Clinical Chemistry)
- MRI of the Musculoskeletal System (American College of Radiology, Radiological Society of North America) Also in Spanish
- Reactive Arthritis Diagnosis (Spondylitis Association of America)
- Synovial Fluid Analysis (American Association for Clinical Chemistry)
Journal Articles References and abstracts from MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine)
- Article: Performance of automated multiplex polymerase chain reaction (mPCR) using synovial fluid...
- Article: Knee Arthritis in Children: When Can It Be Safely Treated With...
- Article: Clinical Characteristics and Long-term Outcomes After Septic Arthritis of the Native...
- Infectious Arthritis -- see more articles
Find an Expert
- Arthritis Foundation: Local Office Directory (Arthritis Foundation)
- Find a Rheumatologist (American College of Rheumatology)
- National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases Also in Spanish