What is osteomyelitis?
Osteomyelitis is the medical term for a bone infection.
Bone is living tissue and can get infected like any other part of your body
Infection gets into a bone through your blood or from nearby infected tissue or an open wound
You may have pain in your bone, fever, and weight loss
You'll need x-rays and maybe a CT or MRI
You’ll need weeks of antibiotics and possibly surgery to treat osteomyelitis
With a bad infection, parts of the bone may die, which makes the infection harder to treat.
Sometimes the infection spreads out from your bone into nearby skin and muscle.
What causes osteomyelitis?
Usually bone infections are caused by bacteria that:
Spread from nearby infected skin
Enter through a deep wound over a bone
Less often the bacteria:
Travel through your bloodstream from an infection in another part of your body
Enter when a broken bone has punctured the skin
Are a complication of bone or joint surgery
You're more likely to get osteomyelitis if you:
Have other health problems, such as cancer Overview of Cancer Cancer is the out-of-control growth of cells in your body. Cells are the tiny building blocks of your body. Cells specialize in what they do. For example, your intestines have muscle cells to... read more , sickle cell disease Sickle Cell Disease Sickle cell disease is a lifelong problem with your red blood cells. It's something you’re born with that causes some of your red blood cells to be unusually shaped. Instead of being shaped... read more , or a weak immune system Overview of the Immune System The immune system is your body's defense system. It helps protect you from illness and infection. The immune system's job is to attack things that don’t belong in your body, including: Germs... read more
Inject street drugs
What are the symptoms of osteomyelitis?
Symptoms of osteomyelitis include:
Pain in the infected bone
Sore, red, warm, swollen area over the infected bone
Weight loss and tiredness
How can doctors tell if I have osteomyelitis?
X-rays Plain X-Rays A plain x-ray is an imaging test that takes a picture of the inside of your body. It uses a low dose of x-ray radiation. X-rays show body parts according to how dense (solid) they are. Doctors... read more , CT scan Computed Tomography A CT scan uses a large machine shaped like a large donut to take x-rays from many angles. A computer then takes the x-rays and creates many detailed pictures of the inside of your body. Each... read more , MRI Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) MRI is a test that uses a machine with a powerful magnet to make pictures of the inside of your body. A computer records changes in the magnetic field around your body. The computer then uses... read more
If these tests show osteomyelitis, then doctors may:
Use a needle or do surgery to take a sample of the infected area
How do doctors treat osteomyelitis?
Doctors treat osteomyelitis with:
Antibiotics given by vein
You may need the antibiotics for 4 to 8 weeks, especially if you've had the infection a long time.
If you're very sick or there's a lot of dead bone, doctors may:
Do surgery to remove infected and dead bone