Septic Bursitis: A More Severe Form of Bursitis

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  • Septic bursitis usually occurs when bacteria enter your bloodstream through an open wound, cut or puncture on your skin
  • If you develop serious symptoms such as a high fever, gradual degradation of the skin, nausea and confusion in conjunction with the symptoms of bursitis, you most likely have this severe condition

It's common for the bursae to become inflamed through repetitive movements and injuries. However, there are some cases where bacteria can cause inflammation, becoming a condition known as septic bursitis. It's more severe and can cause more complications than regular bursitis. It's estimated that out of all cases of bursitis, 20 percent of those are septic.1

The Main Causes of Septic Bursitis

Septic bursitis usually occurs when bacteria enter your bloodstream through an open wound, cut or puncture on your skin. In other cases, a preexisting medical condition or certain medications can cause septic bursitis. For example, HIV/AIDS or lupus can weaken your immune system, making it hard for your body to fight off bacteria, should you sustain an injury. In the same way, certain medications can compromise your immune system, paving the way for a septic disease.2

Specific Symptoms Caused by Septic Bursitis

In addition to the usual symptoms of bursitis, such as pain in the affected area, septic bursitis has hallmark signs that you can easily identify, including:3

  • A high fever with a temperature of 38 degrees Celsius (100.4 degrees Fahrenheit) or above
  • Cold, shivering feeling
  • A deep skin infection, such as cellulitis
  • Broken skin over the affected area

Be Aware of the Symptoms of Cellulitis

Since bacteria can enter your skin and infect your bursa, there's a chance for cellulitis to form as well.4 Cellulitis is an infection that affects the tissues found deep under your skin, and may be life-threatening if not treated immediately. Cellulitis occurs when the bacteria that live on the topmost layer of your skin enter the deeper layers of the skin, usually through an open wound. When this happens, you get symptoms such as:5

High fever

Vigorous shaking

Nausea

Vomiting

Dizziness

Confusion

If the bacteria have penetrated your bloodstream, you may develop systemic symptoms such as a fast heartbeat and diarrhea. You may even faint and become unresponsive.6

Diagnosing and Treating Septic Bursitis

To diagnose for septic bursitis, a doctor can perform aspiration on the affected bursa. The synovial fluid in your bursa will be collected and analyzed to check for any strain of bacteria that may be causing the infection. For treatment, home remedies may not be effective against septic bursitis, so you may be prescribed over-the-counter antibiotics. However, if the infection becomes systemic (meaning the infection has spread to other parts of your body), you will be given an intravenous antibiotic.7

The main problem with antibiotics, however, is that prolonged use of them can kill your probiotics, affecting your gut microbiome and opening the door to further health complications. To counter this predicament, it's advised that you consume fermented foods or take a high-quality probiotic supplement a few hours before or after you are given antibiotics.

As a final resort to address septic bursitis, you may need to undergo surgery. An incision will be made at the site of infection to quickly remove the bacteria. However, an excision (removal of tissue) will need to be done if the bursa can't be saved. This may be because of the presence of necrotic tissue or an abscess, or if repeated incision treatments have become ineffective.8

Seek Medical Advice Immediately if You Think You Have a Septic Infection

If you develop serious symptoms such as a high fever, gradual degradation of the skin, nausea and confusion in conjunction with the symptoms of bursitis, you most likely have this severe condition. Should this happen, you should visit a doctor immediately, because a septic disease can become fatal if not treated.

MORE ABOUT BURSITIS

Bursitis: an Introduction

What Is Bursitis?

Bursitis Types

Hip Bursitis

Elbow Bursitis

Knee Bursitis

Shoulder Bursitis

Heel Bursitis

Septic Bursitis

Bursitis Causes

Bursitis Symptoms

Bursitis Treatment

Bursitis Prevention

Bursitis Diet

Bursitis FAQ

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