• August 16, 2021
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Osteomyelitis is commonly known as Bone infection

What is osteomyelitis (Bone Infection)?

Osteomyelitis or Bone infection is an inflammation or swelling of the bone tissue which is usually caused by infection. Bone infection may occur due to various reasons and can affect both children and adults.

Osteomyelitis usually occurs due to bacterial infection in the blood stream and infects the bone through blood circulation.

This is common in children and usually affects long bones such as arms and legs. In adults the most common infections are seen in spine, foot and hips.

Bone infection can develop suddenly or over a long period of time and if untreated it can become worse and lead to bone death. This may require amputation of the infected area.

Osteomyelitis is caused by staphylococcus bacteria  or fungus which enters into the body through blood stream.

Osteomyelitis may also occur due to an infection caused by a serious injury, surgical procedure or due to an implant. People having diabetes are more vulnerable to bone infection. Any situation giving a direct path to the bones for the bacteria to enter can lead to this condition.

 People with weak immune system or people using immunosuppressants due to a recent organ transplant, or who use steroids are at a higher risk of developing the infection

Depending on the source of infection, Bone infection or Osteomyelitis can develop chronically or suddenly.

What are the symptoms of osteomyelitis?

Symptoms of Osteomyelitis

The symptoms of Osteomyelitis differ based on the cause and rate of infection growth. The most common symptoms the patient may experience are:

Symptoms of osteomyelitis vary, depending on the cause and whether it is a rapid or slow onset of infection. The following are the most common symptoms of osteomyelitis; however, each individual may experience symptoms differently:

  • Fever
  • Pain and soreness in the infected area
  • Swelling and warmth in the infected area
  • Redness in the infected area
  • Difficulty moving joints near the affected area
  • Difficulty bearing weight or walking
  • Limping
  • A stiff back (with vertebral involvement)
  •  Each patient experiences these symptoms differently.


When to consult a doctor?

Consult your doctor if you experience worsening bone pain along with fever. If you’re at risk of infection because of a medical condition or recent surgery or injury, see your doctor right away if you notice signs and symptoms of an infection.

How is osteomyelitis diagnosed?

Diagnosing if a person has osteomyelitis is the first step in the treatment.

Doctors rely on X-rays,MRI and blood tests scans to diagnose the infection. A bone biopsy helps find out the type of organism or the type of bacteria, causing the disease so the right treatment can be administered.

How is osteomyelitis treated?

Treatment focuses on stopping infection in its passage ways and contain the infection from spreading. Most people with osteomyelitis (Bone infection) are treated with antibiotics, surgery, or sometimes both.

Treatment through antibiotics:

Antibiotics help control the infection if diagnosed early and make it possible to avoid surgery. Patients with osteomyelitis are given antibiotics for weeks through an IV. Later depending on the progress of the treatment tablets are prescribed. The movement of the bone infected may be restricted for several days.


The patient may require to undergo surgery if the infected area develops pus (abscess) to drain it or if the infection is chronic in which most of the area infected is destroyed.    

A serious or chronic osteomyelitis requires a surgery to remove the infected tissue and bone. The surgery prevents infection from spreading to other bones. Osteomyelitis if worsens may require the amputation of the bone.

Prevention of bone infection (Osteomyelitis):

Stay away from filthy areas, avoid cuts, scratches, or animal bites that give an entrance point to the bacteria. If you are at a higher risk of getting infected, consult the doctor for further supervision.

Outlook for patients with Osteomyelitis:

For the patients with Osteomyelitis generally, the outlook is good if diagnosed and treated in time.

However, if the infection is chronic in nature and go undiagnosed for long time the patient may require to undergo surgery and may in some cases require amputation of the infected part.

The outcome may depend on the person’s other health conditions, type of infection and the bone that is infected.