Although rare, infections can cause orthopedic problems. Bacteria can enter the bone from the outside (e.g., through injuries or open fractures) or can enter the bone and joints via the blood supply (especially in children).

Septic Arthritis

Septic arthritis can occur in toddlers and young children. Bacteria enter the joint through the blood stream and can damage the joint or, if progressive, the growth plate. The affected joint is usually painful and used less and is often red and swollen. Although antibiotics can successfully fight these infections, it is sometimes necessary to surgically open and rinse the joint. If a growth plate is permanently damaged, shortening and malalignment can develop during growth.


If the infection is within the bone, we speak of osteomyelitis. The pathogen (bacteria) can enter the bone via the blood supply or directly, through puncture wounds or open injuries/fractures. Treatment depends on the bacteria and includes administration of antibiotics and débridement (surgical removal of devitalized or contaminated tissue) and resection (surgical removal) of the affected bone.

Transient Synovitis

Transient synovitis almost always affects the hip and can present with symptoms similar to those of early-stage septic arthritis. However, transient synovitis of the hip, also called coxitis fugax, is only an inflammatory reaction and usually disappears with rest and anti-inflammatory medication.