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Hip inflammatory or infectious arthritis

Sometimes serious diseases or conditions may cause hip pain. These may include infections in the hip joint or the area around the hip. If you have reached this diagnosis risk page after answering the hip pain quiz, you should see a physician as soon as possible.

Infections – especially those caused by bacteria - may permanently damage the joint or even be life threatening. Hip replacements may become infected. Some forms of arthritis, like rheumatoid arthritis and gout cause severe pain and inflammation in the joint. There are other types of arthritis which may require expert evaluation and testing to confirm. Rarely tumors or cancers in or around the hip may cause constant pain.

It is important to confirm the cause of the inflammation as soon as possible. Physicians use blood tests, and sometimes remove fluid from the joint for testing. X-rays may be normal and are often not as helpful early in the disease for detecting inflammation. Sometimes CT scans, ultrasound and MRI tests are ordered.

The warning signs that a severe condition requiring immediate attention and treatment may be present include:

1. Having a fever, chills, night sweats, or unexplained weight loss
2. Skin around the joint area is hot or red
3. Pain never goes away, and worsens - often quickly
4. Other joints (hands, knees, elbows, wrists) also have some of the same signs (painful swelling, warmth, stiffness, redness).
5. The joint is very tender to the touch, and the stiffness never goes away.
6. Constant pain at night, unable to find a comfortable position.

It is very important to have an accurate diagnosis as quickly as possible, as treatment for the wrong condition may worsen the disease. Antibiotics are essential for infection, and sometimes the joint needs surgical attention to remove infected replacements, tissue or bone. For diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis, care from a rheumatologist is recommended. A rheumatologist is a specialist trained to diagnose and treat whatever kind of arthritis is present. Treatment of these conditions to prevent or reduce joint damage often is very effective, and remission is possible. Some diseases require specialized medications to reduce inflammation and joint damage.

There are many newer medications for treating types of inflammatory arthritis such as rheumatoid arthritis or psoriatic arthritis. Resources and information for many of these medications may be found at the websites below:

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