After a recent blood test to rule out Lyme disease and heavy metal toxicity, I asked my family doctor about bacteria and whether it could be a cause of my chronic knee inflammation. He did a few blood tests and I did test high for Strep B. Since I’m on hold for a few weeks to see a new rheumatologist I decided to do a little googling to see whether there is any correlation. To my surprise, septic arthritis has the exact same symptoms I’ve had for the past 2 years!
According to Mayo Clinic’s definition of Septic Arthritis, germs infiltrate your joint — usually just one — and damage it, causing severe pain. Bacteria most commonly target your knee, though other joints can be affected. This sounds a lot like my condition, which is almost exclusively located in my knees. The symptoms for septic arthritis include fever, shaking chills, pain when bending the joint, swelling and warmth of the affected joint. Last spring I went through several weeks with a low grade fever and chills almost nightly. I no longer have the fevers or chills but the pain and swelling has remained. Furthermore, septic arthritis can be caused by bacteria, including strep bacteria, which starts with an infection somewhere else in the body and eventually works it’s way into and attacking the joint. More than just a few pieces of this puzzle fit together.
The only thing I’m not sure about is that both my knees are affected now equally, even though it all started with my left knee shortly after my initial injury/swelling incident in my left leg. Some searches indicate this could also be reactive arthritis. Regardless of the name, I’m going to pursue further the possibility that bacteria may be the cause of my inflammation. After my blood tested positive for strep, the doc gave me antibiotics and a short dose of Prednisone. That week I felt so good I wanted to run again. Both knees were almost back to normal and almost all swelling resided. A couple weeks later they are once again swollen and painful however. I think the steroid may have had something to do with my short relapse, but I’m continuing to investigate. I’m now regularily taking probiotics as well. We’ll see what the new rheumatologist has to say in a couple weeks. For now I have renewed hope.