FACTS ABOUT BONE AND JOINT INFECTIONS
Are you amazed by the topic of our post today? Well, it is a simple discussion about some diseases that affects bone and joints. Also these diseases are caused by bacteria, viruses or other tiny creatures. However the question is how bacteria or viruses manage to cross your skin and muscles to arrive at the bones or joints? Are you at risk of getting affected by bone and joint disease? How can you know when you get infected? Is there treatment? And so on…. I will show you the answers and more. Read on:
Bone and Joint Infections: What Are They?
Bacteria and viruses may invade your bones or joints to cause different types of diseases. These diseases include Septic Arthritis, Viral Arthritis, Osteomyelitis and Tuberculosis (TB) of the bone.
Bone and Joint Infections: Septic Arthritis
Joint is the parts of your body where bones connect to each other for example elbow and knee joints. Also arthritis is a medical condition which affects your joint. This medical condition may be caused by bacteria and is then known as septic arthritis. Septic arthritis is a disease that leads to destruction of the joint making it difficult for you to use it properly. And in extreme cases the disease may end up killing its victims. Septic arthritis can affect you even if your joints are perfectly normal. However it occurs most frequently in joints that have an existing problem or when surgery was done on the joint to treat a problem.
Bacteria from a boil on your skin or from your throat are carried to your joints by the blood flow. The bacteria can also spread from other sites of infection in your body and thereafter start multiplying.
As pointed out above your risk of catching septic arthritis is increased when you have an existing joint disease. Other conditions that increase your risk for this disease include diabetes mellitus, old age and low immunity. Diabetes mellitus is a condition where your body can’t control sugar leading to too much sugar in your blood. Bacteria grow very well where there is too much sugar.
Septic arthritis produces a hot, red, painful and swollen joint. You may also suffer from high fever and distress due to pain in the joint. The joint pain is there when you move the joint and even at rest. Hip and knee joints are the most commonly affected however any joint in your body could be affected. The disease usually affects one joint at a time.
First of all investigations will be carried out to confirm the diagnosis. Sample of the fluid in your joint will be taken by your doctor who will send it to the lab for tests. The tests will show the types of bacteria causing the disease and suggest the best type of drugs to cure it.
You require admission into the hospital for adequate treatment. This will involve injecting antibiotic medicines through your veins for two (2) weeks. After completing this hospital treatment you will be discharged with other antibiotics to take by mouth for four (4) weeks. While in the hospital the doctor will remove the fluid in the sick joint twice daily. But sometimes surgery may be needed to open the joint and clean it properly. You will also be encouraged to move the joint frequently to prevent it becoming fixed in one position.
Bone and Joint Infections: Viral Arthritis
Viruses can also infect your joints to cause arthritis. Virus is a tiny living thing which causes different types of diseases such as hepatitis, flu and HIV.
The symptoms of viral arthritis include joint pain affecting many joints in your body. Fever starts for a few days before the onset of joint pain. In most situations the illness stops by itself within 4 to 6 weeks. And treatment involves only pain relievers.
Bone and Joint Infections: Osteomyelitis
Osteomyelitis is a disease involving the bone and the bone marrow (central part of the bone). Bacteria are carried by blood from a site of infection in your body (throat, skin, lungs) to the bone. It affects children and adolescents most commonly than adults. Your risk of catching osteomyelitis is higher if you are suffering from diabetes mellitus. Also any disease that lowers your immunity such as HIV increases your risk of getting osteomyelitis. Another disease that increases your chances of getting osteomyelitis is sickle cell disease. Salmonella bacteria are the commonest cause of osteomyelitis in sickle cell disease patients. However in others the common causes of osteomyelitis include Staphylococci, Pseudomonas bacteria and Mycobacterium tuberculosis.
Symptoms of osteomyelitis include bone pain, body weakness, night sweats and fever. Pus (creamy-brown fluid) may be seen coming out from different holes on the skin covering the infected bone. Also the joint nearest to the affected bone may become affected leading to septic arthritis.
To confirm the diagnosis you need to do an x-ray which may show some changes in the affected bone. Your doctor will also have to take samples of your blood and the fluid inside your bone to send to the lab for tests.
Treatment involves injection of antibiotic drugs given through your veins for two weeks. Then you will continue to take antibiotic tablets by mouth for the next 4 weeks. Surgery may also be needed to remove the infected bone. It is very important to detect and treat osteomyelitis early because once it goes deeper it becomes difficult to treat.
Bone and Joint Infections: Tuberculosis
TB may affect your bones especially the back bone (spine). It may also affect your hip, knee or ankle joints. Symptoms may include pain, swelling and fever.
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Kasper, D. L. et al. eds. Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine. 19th ed. McGraw Hill. USA.
Walker, B. R., Colledge, N. R., Ralston, S. H. & Penman, I. D. (eds)(2014) Davidson’s Principles and Practice of Medicine. 22nd ed. Churchill Livingstone Elsevier. London
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