Septic arthritis is an important medical emergency with high morbidity. The purpose of this review is to present an algorithm for the diagnosis and treatment of septic arthritis, discussing various risk factors for the development of septic arthritis and reviewing the recent literature on emerging treatment strategies. There is a paucity of highquality evidence upon which to base guidelines for the diagnosis and treatment of septic arthritis. Joint aspiration and culture of synovial fluid is crucial to the diagnosis, but cell count measurement may not be helpful. This review emphasised the need for timely medical and surgical interventions and appropriate supportive measures. However, comparison of the drainage methods for joints (aspiration, arthroscopic and open methods) showed no significant differences on the course of the disease. Antibiotics are clearly required but there are no strict data to indicate by which route or for how long.