Osteomyelitis: A Look at what it is, how to diagnose and treat it

Osteomyelitis,is a potentially life-threatening infection of the bone and surrounding tissues that can cause significant complications in patients. This article will cover everything you need to know about osteomyelitis in order to help you diagnose and treat it.

What is the Osteomyelitis?

Osteomyelitis is an infection of the bone and cartilage.

It can occur in any part of the body, but in adults it  is vertebra of spine and hips.however extremities are frequently involved due to skin wounds ,trauma and surgeries.

The most common cause of osteomyelitis is bacteria, but it can also be caused by viruses or fungi.

The infection can spread from one bone to another through direct contact or through the bloodstream.

The most common symptom of osteomyelitis is pain and swelling around the affected bone. However, other symptoms may include fever, chills, difficulty breathing, and an inability to move the affected area.

If left untreated, osteomyelitis can lead to complications such as amputation or death.What is the Osteomyelitis?

Symptoms of Osteomylitis

If you are suffering from symptoms of osteomyelitis, it’s important to get a diagnosis and start treatment as soon as possible. Osteomyelitis is an infection of the bone that can cause severe pain, swelling and stiffness. If left untreated, osteomyelitis can lead to amputation. Here are some common symptoms of osteomyelitis:

-Severe pain in the area around the infected bone

-Swollen and stiff joints

-Pains when moving the infected bone or when getting up from a seated position




-drainage from an open wound near the infection

-swelling of ankles ,feet and legs

-changes in walking such as limp in childrens

Aetiology, Types and Pathology of Osteomylitis

Osteomyelitis is an infection of the bone and can result in significant pain and swelling. The aetiology of osteomyelitis is unknown, but most cases of osteomylitis are caused by staphylococcus bacteria

Germs can enter a bone in a variety of ways, including:

The bloodstream. Germs in other parts of your body — for example, in the lungs from pneumonia or in the bladder from a urinary tract infection — can travel through your bloodstream to a weakened spot in a bone.

Injuries. Severe puncture wounds can carry germs deep inside your body. If such an injury becomes infected, the germs can spread into a nearby bone. Germs can also enter the body if you have broken a bone so severely that part of it is sticking out through your skin.

Surgery. Direct contamination with germs can occur during surgeries to replace joints or repair fractures.

Types of osteomyelitis include:


This infection comes on suddenly. You may have a fever and then develop pain in the infected area days later.-,it can result from

previous trauma,


puncture wound

bone fracture

an abscessed tooth


Chronic osteomyelitis is a bone infection that doesn’t go away with treatments. It causes bone pain and recurring drainage (pus). Rarely, chronic osteomyelitis doesn’t have symptoms. The infection may go undetected for months or even years.

Vertebral: This type affects the spine. It causes chronic back pain that gets worse when you move. Treatments like resting, heating and pain relievers don’t help.


How is osteomyelitis diagnosed?

After assessing your symptoms and performing a physical exam, your healthcare provider may order one or more of these tests:

1.Blood tests: A complete blood count (CBC) checks for signs of inflammation and infection. A blood culture looks for bacteria in your bloodstream.

2.Imaging tests: X-rays, MRIs, CT scans and ultrasounds provide images of your bones, muscles and tissues.

3.Bone scan: A bone scan uses a small amount of safe, radioactive material to identify infections or fractures during an imaging scan.

4.Biopsy: Your healthcare provider performs a needle biopsy to take samples of fluid, tissue or bone to examine for signs of infection.


Complications of osteomyelitis include:

1.Abscesses: Infection may spread to muscles and soft tissue, causing abscesses. These pockets of pus can seep through your skin. People with chronic osteomyelitis are more likely to have recurring abscesses. Treatment to drain these abscesses may slightly increase the risk of skin cancer.

2.Bone death: Also called osteonecrosis, bone death can occur if swelling from the infection cuts off blood flow to your bone. Very rarely, this may lead to loss of a limb or amputation.

3.Stunted growth: Osteomyelitis in a growing child may stunt bone growth.

4.Skin cancer: if your osteomylitis has reulted in an open sore that is draining pus,the surrounding skin is at higher risk of developing squamous cell cancer


How is osteomyelitis managed or treated?

A bone infection can take a long time to heal. The infection may clear up faster if you start treatment within three to five days of first noticing symptoms.
Treatments include:

Antibiotics: Antibiotics kill infection-causing bacteria. You may need antibiotics for four to eight weeks, starting with intravenous (IV) antibiotics in the hospital for a week or two. You’ll then take medications by mouth for several weeks. Chronic infections may require months of antibiotics.

Antifungals: To treat fungal infections, you may need to take oral antifungal medications for months.

Needle aspiration: Your healthcare provider uses a fine needle to drain fluid and pus from the abscess.

Pain relievers: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) treat pain and inflammation.

Surgery is sometimes needed to treat bone infections. You’ll need antibiotics after surgery. Surgical options include:

Bone surgery: Your healthcare provider surgically removes (debrides) infected dead tissue and bone. This procedure may result in bone deformities.

Spine surgery: People with vertebral osteomyelitis may need spine surgery. This procedure keeps vertebrae from collapsing and damaging your spinal cord, nerves and other parts of your nervous system.


How can I prevent osteomyelitis?

It’s important to clean and treat wounds to keep out bacteria and prevent infections. If you’ve had a recent bone break or surgery, or have an artificial joint, contact your healthcare provider at the first sign of any infection. But in many instances, there isn’t anything you can do to prevent osteomyelitis.


You should call your healthcare provider if you’re at risk for a bone infection and experience:

Back pain that doesn’t improve with rest or pain relievers.

Signs of infection, such as fever and yellow discharge (pus).

Pain that makes movement difficult.

What questions should I ask my doctor?

You may want to ask your healthcare provider:

Why did I get osteomyelitis?

What type of osteomyelitis do I have?

What is the best treatment for this type of osteomyelitis?

What are the treatment risks and side effects?

How can I avoid getting osteomyelitis again?

What type of follow-up care do I need after treatment?

Should I look out for signs of complications?

Risk Factors for Developing Osteomylitis

There are a few key things that may increase your risk of developing osteomyelitis, including:

-Having a poor immune system

-Being infected with a specific type of bacteria (such as Streptococcus)

-Having surgery or radiation therapy near the site of infection

If you experience any of the following symptoms, it’s important to see your doctor:



-Swollen lymph nodes or other areas of your body not typically affected by infections

-Severe pain in the bones or around the joints


Osteomyelitis is a condition that can affect any bone in the body, but is most commonly seen in the spine. Symptoms of osteomyelitis include severe back pain, fever and chills, and sometimes paralysis or even death. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms and believe that you may have osteomyelitis, it is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible. There are several treatment options available for people with osteomyelitis, but the best outcome usually depends on timely diagnosis and treatment. so if you experience any of the following symptoms, please don’t hesitate to contact your doctor: severe back pain; fever above 38°C (100°F); extreme fatigue; difficulty moving around; numbness or tingling in the arms or legs.

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