Acute Infectious Arthritis is Most Common in Young Children and Older Adults

There are several different types of arthritis that individuals suffer from, such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, and gout. However, there is a lesser-known form of the disease called acute infectious arthritis that affects young children and older adults. Here is a description of how acute infectious arthritis differs from the other forms of the disease in terms of symptoms, risk factors, and treatment.

Causes of Acute Infectious Arthritis

As the name suggests, this type of arthritis is caused by infection in a joint. It is also referred to as septic arthritis and acute septic arthritis.1,2,3 The cause of this condition is bacteria or viruses that spread to a joint or to the synovial fluid that surrounds a joint. Infections typically originate in another part of the body and spread to the joint through the bloodstream, an open wound, or during surgery.

Buy On Amazon

Symptoms of Acute Infectious Arthritis

Acute infectious arthritis typically gets worse over the course of hours or days, and this condition usually affects a single joint. These are some of the common symptoms associated with acute infectious arthritis.

  • Joint pain in one joint
  • Effusion
  • Restricted active and passive range of motion
  • Redness
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability

Risk Factors for Acute Infectious Arthritis

Like many forms of arthritis, certain types of people are more at risk of developing this condition than others. Children can develop this condition, and children under the age of three are more at risk.2,4 Also, adults who are over the age of 60 are more likely to develop acute infectious arthritis.

Other risk factors include alcoholism, bacteremia, arthrocentesis, and prior joint surgery. Individuals with cancer, diabetes, hemophilia, immunodeficiency diseases, and history of a previous joint infection are also more likely to develop this condition.2,5,6 Patients who have rheumatoid arthritis have a higher risk of infectious arthritis as well.

Treatments for Acute Infectious Arthritis

Synovial fluid analysis is needed to diagnose an individual with this condition, and arthrocentesis is a medical test commonly used to diagnose acute infectious arthritis.6 Antibiotic IV treatment and drainage of pus from the joints is often recommended as treatment.2,3,4,5 Oral antibiotics may also be prescribed to fight the infection. By draining the excess fluid on the affected joint, pain and swelling should subside. A surgical procedure, such as arthroscopy, is often required to remove damaging material from the joint and clear the infection.

To quickly manage and relieve the pain, powerful arthritis creams like JointFlex can be rubbed into the joint. Resting the joint, splinting the joint, and engaging in physical therapy are treatment strategies that may also be discussed.

Overall, acute infectious arthritis is a very treatable condition, especially if it is diagnosed early. But if left untreated, this condition can cause long-term joint damage. Bacterial infections tend to be easier to treat than fungal infections, yet infectious arthritis caused by a fungus tends to go away on its own with time. Individuals who begin to experience unexplained symptoms as described above should consult a doctor immediately. Once the infection has subsided, muscle strengthening exercises may help joints become more resistant to infections in the future.

Buy On Amazon


1. Infectious arthritis. MedlinePlus. Retrieved October 30, 2018 from
2. Schmitt, S. (2017 May). Infectious arthritis. The Merck Manual: Consumer Version. Retrieved October 30, 2018 from,-joint,-and-muscle-disorders/bone-and-joint-infections/infectious-arthritis.
3. Infectious arthritis. Arthritis Foundation. Retrieved October 30, 2018 from
4. Septic arthritis (infectious arthritis) in children. University of Rochester Medical Center Rochester. Retrieved November 10, 2018 from
5. Septic arthritis. Johns Hopkins Medicine. Retrieved November 10, 2018 from,P00055.
6. Cole, J. D. (2014 February 19). What is arthrocentesis? Arthritis Health. Retrieved November 10, 2018 from