Septic arthritis is associated with a definite morbidity which may be related to a delay in diagnosis and hence treatment. The cases of three patients with rheumatoid arthritis and chronic chest disease where the joint sepsis was not the predominant feature are presented. The responsible organism was Streptococcus pneumoniae which had spread after recent chest infections. Minimal joint symptoms or general malaise in association with an unexplained rise in erythrocyte sedimentation rate in these circumstances warrant a search for joint sepsis.
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