Bacterial infection or injury can lead to painful joints and bones. Learn how to spot the symptoms of joint pain and get immediate treatment.

June 11, 2015

What Causes Joint and Skeletal Pain?

Joint and skeletal pain is often caused by overuse, injury, or a bacterial infection. A bacterial infection in the joint can be a serious condition because the bacteria can cause serious damage to the cartilage.

There are two ways in which bacteria can infect a joint:

  1. Bacteria are spread through the blood to the joint from an infection (ear, urinary tract, or pneumonia) that's located in another part of the body.
  2. Bacteria enter the joint directly after an injury has become infected.

Bacteria can also cause a bone infection. Osteomyelitis is an infection of the long tubular bones, commonly caused by the staphylococcus bacteria. Like joint infections, bone infections can be the result of a direct injury or bacteria spreading through the bloodstream from another infection.

Symptoms of Joint and Skeletal Pain

Symptoms include pain in the infected area, which leads children to avoid moving the painful body part. Infection causes the join to swell and become hot and tender, and your child may have a fever. Younger children may have less pronounced symptoms, such as limping.

Getting Relief for Joint and Skeletal Pain

Call 911 or your doctor immediately if your child:

  • Has a swollen joint and a fever.
  • Doesn't want to put weight on his leg or use his arm after an injury.
  • Begins to limp and refuses to stand on or put weight on his leg for more than 24 hours.
  • Has joint and muscle pain that has not improved after 24 hours or swelling that has not gone down within days.
  • Has pain in the muscle or joint and a fever, looks weak, and is less active than normal. He could have a bacterial infection that is rapidly damaging the cartilage in his joint. He will need to be treated with intravenous antibiotics in a hospital.

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