Even bones can become infected. This can occur through an infection that travels through the blood, when the bone is exposed to bacteria through an injury, or when an infection occurs close to the bone.  Called osteomyelitis, this type of bone infection was once believed to be almost untreatable. Thankfully medical knowledge has now advanced enough to know that it can be successfully treated. Sadly osteomyelitis affects not only adults but kids as well.

Osteomyelitis Can Strike Anyone

Osteomyelitis can affect almost anyone. Children who become infected usually have their long bones affected, particularly the bones in their legs. Adults typically see the infection in their vertebrae and hips. Diabetes patients will sometimes see their feet affected due chronic infections that sometimes occur in their feet. Since almost anyone can become infected, it is important to understand what some of the risk factors are. Contributing risk factors for osteomyelitis include:

  • Circulatory problems – including diabetes, artery disease, and sickle cell disease
  • Recent injury – like bone fractures and puncture wounds
  • Medical Tubing – long term intravenous lines and dialysis machines for example
  • Use Of Street Drugs – non sterile needles creating puncture wounds near the bone

Complications From Osteomyelitis

Osteomyelitis can cause quite a few secondary complications. In children, osteomyelitis can damage the growth plates, which can lead to impairment in growth. Occasionally the infection can move to other joints causing septic arthritis. If the osteomyelitis was bad enough to cause a sore to appear that leaks pus, it may increase the chances of getting skin cancer. In the worst cases the infection can cause the bone to die due to a decrease in the blood supply to the bone.

Getting Treatment For Osteomyelitis

Treating osteomyelitis can be a long process. Orthopedic physicians may suggest starting with a bone biopsy to help choose the best antibiotic to treat that particular infection. Antibiotic treatments usually last around six weeks and are administered through an IV. Many cases of osteomyelitis require surgery. Surgery may be done for a variety of reasons including draining the infection, removing infected bone, getting blood back to the bone or, in the worst cases, amputation.

You should make an appointment with an orthopedic physician now for any suspected Osteomyelitis. If you are experiencing bone pain, a fever, and swelling it is imperative to see an orthopedic specialist soon. The physicians at the Illinois Bone and Joint Institute are some of the best orthopedic doctors in the Midwest. Their experience and training in treating all types of orthopedic conditions, including osteomyelitis, makes them your best choice for orthopedic medicine.

This information is not intended to provide advise or treatment for a specific situation. Consult your physician and medical team for information and treatment plans on your specific condition(s).