Septic arthritis | SOP Information, SOPs and Supporting Information – alphabetic listing, H to L, Lumbar Spondylosis N004, Factors in CCPS as at 16 September 2011 (N004)

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Septic arthritis

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Last amended 
14 May 2015

Lumbar spondylosis - Septic arthritis Factor

RMA definition

The RMA has defined septic arthritis as "the bacterial infection of a joint resulting in inflammation within that joint".

General information

There are many bacterial infections which can result in septic arthritis, such as tuberculosis, gonorrhoea or infection with staphylococcus aureus ('golden staph'); however the incidence of septic arthritis in all of them is fairly low. Most cases of septic arthritis arise from trauma or follow surgical operations.

Signs and symptoms
  • Where a joint is involved:

Acute joint pain [most often the knee, followed by the shoulder, wrist, hip, phalanges, and elbow] and stiffness. On examination, the joint is warm, tender, and swollen with evidence of effusion. Other signs of infection [eg, fever, chills, or leukocytosis] usually are present. Diagnosis is by analysis of fluid aspirated from the joint and/or blood cultures. The condition is most often treated with antibiotics.

  • Where the spine is involved:

Vertebral osteomyelitis usually has an insidious onset and a gradually progressive back pain unrelieved by rest, heat or analgesics, and worsened by movement.  Fever typically is minimal or absent.  Diagnosis is by blood cultures but usually biopsy of the infected bone is required.  Treatment usually involves bed rest and an appropriate antimicrobial agent.  Surgery may be required.

Establishing onset

Acute bacterial arthritis is a medical emergency; the joint may be destroyed if not promptly treated.

If a veteran or member had septic arthritis significant medical attention would have been sought.  Such medical treatment would normally be recorded in the medical documents.

Last reviewed for CCPS 16 September 2011.

Preliminary questions [26452]

26453 there is some evidence that septic arthritis in side and site of the body may be a factor in the development or worsening of the condition under consideration.

25497 the veteran has had septic arthritis at some time.

25498 the veteran has had septic arthritis in side and site of the body at some time.

25499  septic arthritis means the bacterial infection of a joint resulting in inflammation within that joint.

26454  the veteran has established the causal connection between the septic arthritis and VEA service for the condition under consideration.

26516 the veteran had the identified illness or injury, a type of septic arthritis in side and site of the body, before the clinical onset of the condition under consideration.

26455   the veteran has established the causal connection between the septic arthritis and VEA service for the clinical onset of the condition under consideration.

26457  the veteran has established the causal connection between the septic arthritis and operational service for the clinical onset of the condition under consideration.

or

26458  the veteran has established the causal connection between the septic arthritis and eligible service for the clinical onset of the condition under consideration.

or

7334     the clinical onset of the condition under consideration occurred after the end of the veteran's last period of VEA service.

7335     the condition under consideration permanently worsened.

26517 the veteran had the identified illness or injury, a type of septic arthritis in side and site of the body, before the clinical worsening of the condition under consideration.

26456   the veteran has established the causal connection between the septic arthritis and VEA service for the clinical worsening of the condition under consideration.

26459  the veteran has established the causal connection between the septic arthritis and operational service for the clinical worsening of the condition under consideration.

or

26460  the veteran has established the causal connection between the septic arthritis and eligible service for the clinical worsening of the condition under consideration.

Clinical onset and operational service [26457]

26461  the identified illness or injury, a type of septic arthritis in side and site of the body, is causally related to operational service.

Clinical onset and eligible service [26458]

26462  the identified illness or injury, a type of septic arthritis in side and site of the body, is causally related to eligible service.

Clinical worsening and operational service [26459]

26461  the identified illness or injury, a type of septic arthritis in side and site of the body, is causally related to operational service.

26509 the clinical onset of the condition under consideration occurred prior to that part of operational service to which the identified illness or injury, a type of septic arthritis in side and site of the body, is causally related.

Clinical worsening and eligible service [26460]

26462  the identified illness or injury, a type of septic arthritis in side and site of the body, is causally related to eligible service.

26510 the clinical onset of the condition under consideration occurred prior to that part of eligible service to which the identified illness or injury, a type of septic arthritis in side and site of the body, is causally related.