Doctors rely on joint drainage and antibiotic drugs to treat septic arthritis.
Removing the infected joint fluid is crucial. Drainage methods include:
- Needle. In some cases, your doctor can withdraw the infected fluid with a needle inserted into the joint space.
- Scope procedure. In arthroscopy (ahr-THROS-kuh-pee), a flexible tube with a video camera at its tip is placed in your joint through a small incision. Suction and drainage tubes are then inserted through small incisions around your joint.
- Open surgery. Some joints, such as the hip, are more difficult to drain with a needle or arthroscopy, so an open surgical procedure might be necessary.
To select the most effective medication, your doctor must identify the microbe causing your infection. Antibiotics are usually given through a vein in your arm at first. Later, you may be able to switch to oral antibiotics.
Typically, treatment lasts from two to six weeks. Antibiotics carry a risk of side effects, including nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Allergic reactions also can occur. Ask your doctor about what side effects to expect from your medication.
Removal of replacement joint
If an artificial joint is infected, treatment often involves removing the joint and temporarily replacing it with a joint spacer — a device made with antibiotic cement. Several months later, a new replacement joint is implanted.
If a replacement joint can't be removed, a doctor may clean the joint and remove damaged tissue but keep the artificial joint in place. Intravenous antibiotics are followed by oral antibiotics for several months to prevent the infection from coming back.