DefinitionOsteomyelitis is an infection of the bone. The infection may be:
- Acute—for a short time
- Chronic—lasting for a long time
CausesOsteomyelitis is caused by specific bacteria.
Risk FactorsOsteomyelitis is more common in males, or in young children and older adults. Other factors that increase your chance of osteomyelitis include:
- Trauma or injury to the bone and skin
- Broken bones, especially if open to or sticking through the skin
- Soft tissue infection
- Kidney dialysis
- IV drug abuse
- Weakened immune system
- Poor circulation
- Sickle cell anemia
- Any operation on a joint or bone, such as a hip replacement or internal fixation of a fracture
- Bone pain
- Fever or chills
- Tenderness, warmth, swelling, or redness of the skin or joint
- Drainage of pus
- Fatigue or irritability
- Restricted movement of the area
- A sore over a bone that does not heal
|Skin Infection Spreading to Bone|
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DiagnosisYour doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.Your bodily fluids and tissues may be tested. This can be done with:
- Blood tests
- Bone biopsy
TreatmentThe affected area may be treated with a splint to prevent it from moving. Avoiding weight bearing activities may also be advised.
AntibioticsThis infection is treated with antibiotics. They are given by IV and sometimes by mouth. Acute osteomyelitis is generally treated for at least 4-6 weeks. Chronic osteomyelitis may require antibiotics for a longer period of time.This infection is treated with antibiotics. They are given by IV and sometimes by mouth. Acute osteomyelitis is generally treated for at least 4-6 weeks. Chronic osteomyelitis may require antibiotics for a longer period of time.
SurgerySurgery may be required to:
- Clean infected bone via scraping and irrigating the area
- Remove any fragments of dead bone or tissue that may prolong the infection
Skin GraftIn some situations, your doctor may recommend a skin graft . The skin in the affected area is replaced with healthy skin taken from another part of your body.
PreventionTo reduce your risk of getting osteomyelitis:
- Seek immediate medical care for infections or injuries.
- Keep diabetes under good control.
- Do not use illegal drugs.
- See your doctor for any sores that do not heal.
- If you smoke, talk to your doctor about how you can successfully quit .
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases
Ortho Info - American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
Canadian Orthopaedic Association
Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation
Bone and joint infections. Mayo Clinic Health Letter. February 26, 2001.
Carek PJ, Dickerson LM, et al. Diagnosis and management of osteomyelitis. Am Fam Physician. 2001;63(12).
Osteomyelitis. Cleveland Clinic website. Available at: http://my.clevelandclinic.org/orthopaedics-rheumatology/diseases-conditions/hic-osteomyelitis.aspx. Updated January 12, 2009. Accessed June 19, 2014.
Osteomyelitis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated February 25, 2014. Accessed June 19, 2014.
Osteomyelitis. Nemours' Kids Health website. Available at: http://kidshealth.org/teen/diseases%5Fconditions/bones/osteomyelitis.html. Updated October 2013. Accessed June 19, 2014.
- Reviewer: David L. Horn, MD, FACP
- Review Date: 05/2014
- Update Date: 06/19/2014
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