Bone Infection Basics

Bone infection, also known as osteomyelitis, is a serious medical condition that often requires orthopedic surgery. Acute osteomyelitis develops rapidly, typically in about seven to 10 days. Since delaying treatment may lead to permanent deficits, it’s important to see an orthopedist right away if any of the symptoms of bone infections arise.

Symptoms

Adults are most likely to develop osteomyelitis of the vertebrae , although it can also develop in the feet of diabetics. Most often, osteomyelitis in children affects the bones in the legs and upper arms. The symptoms of osteomyelitis can be localized, such as pain in the affected area, or generalized, such as fever or chills. Young children may display lethargy or irritability. Additionally, the affected area may become swollen, red, and warm to the touch.

Causes

Most patients with bone infections develop them because of staphylococcus bacteria. There are several ways the bacteria could enter the body, including through open wounds and infected prosthetic devices. Bacteria can also spread to the bones from the bloodstream after infecting other parts of the body, such as the urinary tract. When the bones are already weakened by circulation disorders or a recent injury, they are more susceptible to infection. A suppressed immune system because of diabetes or chemotherapy is another risk factor of bone infection.

Medications

Typically, osteomyelitis treatment requires a combination of antibiotics and surgical intervention. To select the most appropriate antibiotic, the orthopedist may perform a bone biopsy to identify the specific germ that is causing the infection. Patients may receive intravenously administered antibiotics for four to six weeks. Sometimes, patients must complete a course of oral antibiotics in addition to the intravenous medications.

Surgical Intervention

The type of procedure a patient may need depends on the severity of the infection. Sometimes, the surgeon may only need to drain the area around the infected bone. Other possible interventions may include the removal of diseased bone and tissue, the placement of bone or tissue grafts, or the amputation of a limb in extreme cases.

Able Orthopedic & Sports Medicine encourages patients to seek medical care right away for suspected bone infections in Queens. You can call us at (718) 897-2228 to schedule an exam by an orthopedist. Our clinic also offers superior care for patients with sports injuries.

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