Hip Joint Infection

Hip joint infection, also known as septic arthritis of the hip, is a serious medical condition characterized by the inflammation of the hip joint due to a bacterial, viral, or fungal infection. The infection can be caused by a variety of microorganisms and may result from a previous infection, surgery, or injury to the hip joint. The infection can cause damage to the articular cartilage, bone, and soft tissues of the joint, leading to pain, stiffness, and loss of function. Without prompt and appropriate treatment, hip joint infection can result in severe and permanent damage to the joint, including bone destruction and joint deformity.

Causes of Hip Joint Infection

Hip joint infection is typically caused by the spread of bacteria, viruses, or fungi from other parts of the body to the hip joint. Common causes of hip joint infection include:

Direct infection: The bacteria, viruses, or fungi can directly invade the hip joint through a skin wound or a surgical incision.

Bloodstream infection: The infection can spread to the hip joint through the bloodstream from another infected site in the body, such as the lungs, urinary tract, or heart.

Contiguous infection: The infection can spread from a nearby infected site, such as the pelvis, spine, or hip bone.

Trauma: The infection can develop after a traumatic injury to the hip joint, such as a fracture or dislocation.

Medical procedures: The infection can develop as a complication of a medical procedure, such as joint injection, arthroscopy, or joint replacement surgery.

Signs and Symptoms of Hip Joint Infection

The signs and symptoms of hip joint infection can vary from person to person and may develop gradually or suddenly. Some common signs and symptoms include:

  • Pain: Hip joint infection can cause pain in the groin, hip, and buttock that worsens with movement and may be severe enough to limit the person’s mobility.
  • Swelling: The hip joint may become swollen, red, and warm to the touch.
  • Stiffness: The hip joint may become stiff and difficult to move, and the person may experience a reduced range of motion.
  • Fever: Hip joint infection can cause fever and chills, indicating a systemic infection.
  • Fatigue: The person may feel tired, weak, and unwell due to the infection.
  • Difficulty weight bearing: Hip joint infection can make it difficult to bear weight on the affected leg, and the person may limp or favor the other leg.
  • Joint instability: The hip joint may feel unstable or loose, and the person may experience a clicking or popping sensation when moving the joint.

It’s important to seek prompt medical attention if any of these symptoms develop, as untreated hip joint infection can lead to serious complications.

Treatment for Hip Joint Infection

Physiotherapy can play an important role in the treatment of hip joint infection, both during the acute phase and in the rehabilitation phase after the infection has been cleared. The goals of physiotherapy for hip joint infection are to reduce pain and inflammation, improve joint mobility and stability, restore muscle strength and function, and help the person return to their normal activities.

During the acute phase, physiotherapy may focus on gentle range of motion exercises, manual therapy, and pain management techniques, such as ice and heat therapy, to minimize pain and swelling in the hip joint. The physiotherapist may also use modalities such as ultrasound, electrical stimulation, or laser therapy to promote tissue healing and reduce inflammation.

After the infection has been cleared, physiotherapy may progress to more active exercises, such as strengthening and stretching exercises, to improve joint mobility, stability, and function. The physiotherapist may also use gait training, balance training, and functional training to help the person regain their ability to walk, stand, and perform daily activities. They may also provide education on proper posture, body mechanics, and activity modification to prevent re-injury.

In some cases, joint replacement surgery may be necessary to treat the hip joint infection. In such cases, physiotherapy is an essential part of the post-operative rehabilitation program to help the person regain mobility, strength, and function. The physiotherapist will work closely with the person’s surgeon to develop a customized treatment plan that meets their specific needs and goals.

It’s important to note that the specific physiotherapy treatment for hip joint infection may vary depending on the severity of the infection and the individual needs of the person. Therefore, it’s recommended to consult a qualified physiotherapist who can provide a personalized treatment plan based on their specific condition.

If you have any questions or would like to speak to a therapist about hip joint infection please call us at 03 9836 1126.



Kapadia, B. H., Issa, K., Pivec, R., Bonutti, P. M., Mont, M. A., & Khanuja, H. S. (2014). Periprosthetic joint infection. The Lancet

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