Fungal arthritis is usually caused by a mold-related infection that enters the bloodstream and travels to the joint, infecting it. This is known as hematogenous spread of infection. This can be caused by exposure to mold in the home.
You’re probably familiar with osteoarthritis, a condition in which the cartilage that covers the ends of the bones begins to wear down, causing joint pain as two bones begin to rub together without the protective cushion once provided by the cartilage. The word “arthritis” simply means “inflammation in the joints,” however, and there are many different types of it and different causes of the condition.
Hematogenous spread of fungal infection to the joint (or joints) is the most common way.
The condition can also be caused by the injection of contaminated medication into the joint. Conditions such as osteoarthritis are often treated by the injection of corticosteroids or other medications directly into the joint, and if the medication happens to be contaminated with mold, fungal infection of the joint can result. This is known as exogenous inoculation and it is not very common, since of course precautions are taken to prevent contamination of medications and medical instruments.
The condition can be caused by almost any type of mold, but aspergillus, candida and exserohilum are common culprits.
People with poorly functioning immune systems are at greatest risk for fungal infection of the joints. This includes people with HIV, those with abnormally low numbers of white blood cells, and people taking certain medications that decrease immune functioning. Previously healthy people can get the condition, though, especially if injected with contaminated medications.
Common symptoms include joint pain, swelling, redness of the area, warmth to the touch, and decreased range of motion in the affected joint. Sometimes a fever also develops but not always. Symptoms may not appear until weeks or even months after the joint becomes infected. For instance, if infection is the result of an injection with contaminated medication, symptoms may not develop until a few months after the injection was received, which sometimes makes it difficult to connect the two.
Mold can infect any joint, but fungal infection is most common in the knee joints.
This is not like osteoarthritis, which may require treatment but is not a medical emergency. Fungal arthritis is an infection, a serious infection. Antifungal medications such as amphotericin B or Diflucan are typically prescribed, but often that is not enough. In many cases, a surgical procedure is required to drain the infected joint. You may need to see both an infectious disease specialist and an orthopedic surgeon for treatment.
In addition to getting the medical treatment you need, you’ll also need to make sure you are not exposed to further mold. If you contracted the infection via contaminated medication, your physician will need to attempt to track down the source of the contamination and notify the manufacturer of the medication. If, on the other hand, the fungal infection spread through your bloodstream to the affected joint, you’ll need to determine where you were exposed to mold in the first place and make sure no further exposure occurs.
If you have a mold-related infection, most likely you were exposed to mold at home. If you’re not sure if there is mold in your home or not, though, you can have a professional test your home for mold. This article explains mold testing, and when it is necessary.
If there is mold in your home, it is recommended that you arrange for someone else to remove the mold for you if you are experiencing mold-related health problems so that you do not exacerbate your condition by further exposure. If you’ve just had a surgical procedure to drain an infected joint, you’re not likely to feel up to the task anyway.
You can schedule a free consultation with a mold removal professional to discuss your needs. The professional will come to your home or, if your physician advises you not to be in your home until the mold is removed, he or she will come to another convenient location to meet with you. In addition to explaining what needs to be done to remove the mold and make your home safe again, the mold removal professional will answer all your questions. He or she can also tell you about safety precautions you can take to prevent mold in the future. Follow this link to find qualified mold removal professionals offering free consultations in your area.