Osteomyelitis is simply an infection in a bone. It is important to note that the bone which are typically affected are the arms, legs, pelvis and spine but can affect any bone especially after injuries.
Bacteria can infect the bones by:
- An open wound, during a surgical procedure or from a fracture that pierced through the skin
- Infections in other parts of the body that moves via the bloodstream
Osteomyelitis can be acute or chronic. The acute form develops rapidly and settles with treatment. An infection can become chronic if antibiotics could not effectively eliminate the bacteria.
One is at higher risk for a chronic infection if these are present:
- Infection at the site of a recent injury
- Under dialysis
- Sickle cell anemia
- Cancer of the skin or soft tissues beneath the skin
- Absence of a spleen
What are the signs?
The usual indications of osteomyelitis include:
- Bone pain
- Warmth, redness and swelling in the area adjacent the bone
- Fever and chills
- Limited movement if the infection is close to a joint
- Increased sweating
- Generalized feeling of being sick
Management of osteomyelitis
Osteomyelitis is generally managed with intravenous antibiotics. Since it is difficult for the antibiotic to reach into the bone, it might be given for several weeks or even months.
Surgery might also be necessary to get rid of regions of bone that are infected or to drain an abscess. The damaged regions of bone might grow back normally once the infection is properly controlled.
In case a large amount of infected or dead bone requires removal, surgical options to strengthen the bone is needed. Once the infection has settled, a bone graft is required.