Osteomyelitis is an infection of the bone. The infection may be:
In adults, the pelvis and vertebrae (bones of the back) are the most common sites. In children, the long bones are most likely to be affected. These are found in arms and legs.
This infection can occur as a result of an injury to the bone. It can also be caused by an infection in the body carried by the blood.
Factors that increase your chance of osteomyelitis include:
Skin Infection Spreading to Bone
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Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Tests may include:
Your doctor may immobilize the affected area with a splint. He or she may also recommend avoiding any weight bearing on the area.
This infection is treated with antibiotics. They are given by IV and sometimes by mouth.
For chronic infection, surgery may be required to:
In severe cases, amputation may be necessary.
In some situations, your doctor may recommend a skin graft. The skin in the affected area is replaced with healthy skin taken from another part of your body.
If you are diagnosed with osteomyelitis, follow your doctor's instructions.
To reduce your risk of getting osteomyelitis:
American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
US National Library of Medicine
Canadian Orthopaedic Association
Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation
Bone and joint infections. Mayo Clinic Health Letter. February 26, 2001.
Carek PJ, Dickerson LM, et al. Diagnosis and management of osteomyelitis. Am Fam Physician. 2001;63(12).
Dambro MR. Griffith's 5-Minute Clinical Consult. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2001.
Osteomyelitis. Mayo Clinic website. Available at: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/osteomyelitis/DS00759. Updated June 2009. Accessed July 24, 2009.
Last reviewed September 2011 by Rosalyn Carson-DeWitt, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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