As mentioned above, joint inflammation can be secondary to an infectious process. Bacteria that gain entrance into the body’s bloodstream can circulate to one or more joints of the body, setting up house keeping within the joint fluid.
Bacterial endocarditis caused by periodontal disease can be an important source of these organisms.
Arthritis can also be a prominent sign in ehrlichiosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and Lyme disease. If the arthritis is left untreated, permanent damage to the cartilage and other joint structures can result.
Fever, depression, and painful, swollen joints are prominent clinical signs seen in most cases of infectious arthritis. Laboratory testing, including cultures of the fluid within the joint, may be needed to positively identify the offender.
Once this identification is accomplished, specific treatment, usually involving high doses of antibiotics, can be instituted.