Permanent joint infection in children – septic arthritis



If one or more of the child’s joints have become infected by bacteria, it is called a permanent joint infection or septic arthritis. Usually, it is the large joints, such as the hip joint or the knee joint, that become infected.

The bacteria are spread to the joint via the blood. The most common cause is staphylococci, but also other bacteria such as streptococci can cause permanent joint infection.

If the child receives treatment early, the infection usually heals without any trouble afterward. If the cartilage in the joint is damaged, the child may get some complaints from the joint, which needs to be checked for some time.

Symptoms of permanent joint infection in children

It is common for a child to have a permanent joint infection

  • high fever
  • a lot of pain in the joint that swells and aches.

Often the child does not want to touch the joint or walk on the leg. If the hip joint is infected, the baby usually keeps the leg bent upwards and the thigh slightly outward, as this position hurts the least.

When should I seek care?

Search care directly to a health clinic, children receive or emergency open reception if the child has a fever while limping, did not want to stand on one leg or does not want to move an arm or a leg.

Treatment of septic arthritis

If it is a permanent joint infection, the joint should be punctured to diagnose and see what type of bacteria is present, so that the right antibiotics are given. Thereafter, the joint should be drained and flushed out so that the bacteria and the increased pressure in the joint disappear. The child is often anesthetized at the time.

For the first time afterward, the child receives antibiotics directly into the blood. In the meantime, you get to stay with the child in the hospital. Sometimes more fluid in the joint must be sucked out after a while. Thereafter, treatment continues at home when the child receives the medication as tablets or in liquid form for another few weeks.


To be able to diagnose, the doctor takes a blood test, a so-called  CRP test, which shows if the child has an infection in the body.

The next step is an ultrasound examination to show if the child has an increased amount of fluid in the joint.

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