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from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons

Diseases & Conditions



Staying Healthy

What Should I Do If I Have a Bone or Joint Infection During the Pandemic?

Lew Schon, MD

Lew C. Schon MD, FAAOS

Any views or recommendations shared in the Ortho-pinions blog are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. 

If you have a bone or joint infection, getting early treatment can be limb-saving and possibly even life-saving. Be assured that, during the COVID-19 pandemic, orthopaedic surgeons nationwide are available to help diagnose and treat infections—either in person during an office visit or virtually via telemedicine. 

Infections can be either localized or generalized. Signs and symptoms of a localized infection include:

  • Increasing pain, warmth, swelling, and redness in the affected area
  • Stiffness and reduced function in the affected area
  • In some cases, there may be wound or scar splitting, drainage and foul odors. This may be particularly true if you have had a recent surgical procedure.

Symptoms of a generalized infection include:

  • Fever and chills
  • Feeling weak or tired
  • Body aches
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Shaking or sweats
  • Poor appetite

If you are experiencing generalized as well as localized symptoms of infection, you should call your orthopaedist’s office and/or 911.  By adhering to guidelines established by the CDC and the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, orthopaedic groups and hospitals have developed low-risk ways to provide patient care during this time. This will include:

  • Controlling access to spaces by monitoring other incoming patients
  • Isolating COVID-19 and at-risk patients
  • Preparing and sanitizing surfaces in exam spaces and minimizing contact with others
  • Using masks, face shields, gloves and, at times, gowns

You will be assessed and, if you have an infection, treatment will include antibiotics and, in some cases, drainage to ensure that you stay healthy and functional. 

Early treatment for a bone or joint infection can make a huge difference in your day-to-day life, so connecting with your physician is an urgent priority.  Treating your infection will not only improve your musculoskeletal health, but will improve your overall physical and mental well-being, as well.

Read more:  Joint Replacement Infection

Last Reviewed

May 2020

Contributed and/or Updated by

Lew C. Schon, MD, FAAOS

AAOS does not endorse any treatments, procedures, products, or physicians referenced herein. This information is provided as an educational service and is not intended to serve as medical advice. Anyone seeking specific orthopaedic advice or assistance should consult his or her orthopaedic surgeon, or locate one in your area through the AAOS Find an Orthopaedist program on this website.