Based on the medical term, it may be difficult to identify osteomyelitis as a bone infection. This condition may occur in the bone marrow or bone cells. Ultimately, the infection can cause bone necrosis, or death. For this reason, it is important to recognize risk factors, symptoms, and treatment options to preserve bone in its healthiest state.
What may Cause Osteomyelitis
Infection in bone tissue is typically caused by staphylococcus bacteria. These germs may be present in healthy individuals, as well as those with a more vulnerable immune system. While open wounds or significant puncture wounds present a clear path for infection to reach nearby bones, it is also possible that osteomyelitis may occur as a secondary infection after a condition such as urinary tract infection or pneumonia. Germs that enter the bloodstream may reach soft or compromised bone, where infection can occur easily. Sometimes, the damage done to the bone is not noticed until years after the onset of infection.
How to Recognize Osteomyelitis
In some cases, very few if any symptoms may occur. This generally applies to osteomyelitis affecting the pelvis, hip, or back. Indications of bone infection include:
- Fever and chills
- Persistent pain, usually when the spine is involved
- Swelling and redness accompany pain in a localized area
- A pus-filled lesion, or abscess, develops
The good news is that both short-term and chronic osteomyelitis may be treated. The recommendation for treatment is made after a thorough medical examination, consultation, and diagnostic testing. In some cases, infection may be treated with antibiotics. Sometimes this will involve IV dosages. The dosage and delivery of medication is determined by the severity of infection. Early treatment may consist of a few weeks of oral antibiotics. Chronic osteomyelitis that has been present for some time may require a lengthy course of antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medication. Surgery may also be necessary.
Surgical treatment for osteomyelitis focuses on removing unhealthy tissue, potentially unhealthy artificial fixtures, or infectious fluids from the affected bone. Circulation to the surrounding bone may be improved with bone or tissue grafting, if necessary.
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