What Are the Signs of Infection to Watch for After a Total Hip or Knee Surgery?


Quick Answer

Symptoms of infection following joint replacement include increased stiffness or pain, swelling, wound drainage, redness and warmth around the wound, fever, fatigue, chills and night sweats, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Around one in 100 people develop an infection after the procedure.

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Infections may occur around the artificially implanted joint or deep in the wound, notes the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Infections may occur during the hospital stay, once the patient returns home or even years following the procedure. Infections following joint replacement occur because the metal or plastic implant makes it difficult for the immune system to attack any bacteria that get into the area. This gives the bacteria a chance to multiply and cause infection.

Most commonly, bacteria enter the body through cuts or breaks in the skin, through dental procedures such as root canals or extractions, or via wounds caused by other surgeries, explains the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. People with immune deficiencies, diabetes mellitus or peripheral vascular disease are more prone to developing infection following joint replacement. People who are obese or undergoing immunosuppressive treatments, including corticosteroid treatment or chemotherapy, are also more apt to get an infection after a joint replacement procedure.

Treatment for this type of infection may include oral or intravenous antibiotics if the infection is caught early. If an infection goes beyond the superficial tissue and reaches the artificial joint, surgical treatment may be necessary.

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