Septic (Infectious) Arthritis in Children

  • Septic arthritis is an infection in the joint tissues and the joint's fluid (synovial fluid). The infection usually reaches the joints though the bloodstream, although some joints may become infected due to an injection, surgery, or injury. Different bacteria and viruses can infect a joint and usually are associated with a person's age.

    The most commonly affected joints are the

    • knee
    • hip
    • ankle
    • elbow
    • wrist
    • shoulder
    • pelvis

    Most infections only affect one joint.

    Swift diagnosis and treatment can help clear the infection within a matter of days. But if treatment doesn't begin soon enough, the joints may become permanently damaged because of pressure and reduced blood flow.

    How Boston Children's Hospital approaches septic arthritis

    To ensure your child gets the quickest treatment possible, doctors at Children's have different tests to make sure your child is diagnosed properly, including tests of blood, urine and joint fluid. The exact nature of your child's infection, whether it's viral or bacterial, will determine how doctors treat your child's septic arthritis.

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