Do I need further treatment for my septic joint?

Q. Should I seek further treatment for my septic joint?

Answered by
Dr. Naval Mendiratta
and medically reviewed by iCliniq medical review team.
This is a premium question & answer published on Feb 19, 2017 and last reviewed on: Jul 12, 2023

Hi doctor,

Before 10 days, I got a cut on my knee. Two days later, I swam in the contaminated water. Then, I realized that my knee was extremely red, inflamed, tender, and spreading outward from the site of the cut (first image). I cleaned the wound with alcohol and did not seek treatment. The following morning, the redness had gone down, and there was less tenderness. Three days later, I started on antibiotics (Cephalexin) four times a day for 10 days. The doctor who prescribed the antibiotics said he was concerned it may be a septic joint. The second image was taken last night. Should I seek further medical treatment for the septic joint? I can walk, run and bend my knee. However, it is a bit stiff. I am not sure if this is just the scab. I do not want to leave this and allow the condition to progress. I also have seven more days of antibiotics to complete, so I do not want to jump to conclusions. Please advise.



Welcome to

I have gone through your history and the images (attachment removed to protect patient identity). Although it is still not clear how the wound happened, did you brush against something while swimming or was it some insect bite? Secondly, as you mentioned fresh water, we need to put you on another antibiotic for atypical organisms. I would suggest adding Clarithromycin to Cefalexin as the wound has not shown too much improvement after three days. It is still red with a scab. Thirdly, as for septic arthritis, as long as you can bend your knee and move around, I doubt it has involved the joint. But, just to be sure, you can get an ultrasound. The stiffness is due to the cellulitis right above the joint with scab formation. Nevertheless, get an ultrasound of the knee done to be sure there is no extension of the infection within.

Thank you.

Investigations to be done:

Ultrasound knee.

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