Osteomyelitis is an inflammation or swelling of bone tissue. It’s most often caused by an infection. Bone infection may occur for many reasons and can affect children or adults.
Osteomyelitis can be caused by a bacterial infection of the blood. This is sometimes called bacteremia or sepsis. This infection can spread to the bone. It’s most common in infants and children and usually affects their long bones such as the thighbone or upper arm bone. When it affects adults, it often involves the bones in the spine. The source of the blood infection is usually Staphylococcus aureus, although it may be caused by other organisms.
Other causes include:
Osteomyelitis can have a sudden start, a slow and mild start, or may be a chronic problem, depending on the source of the infection.
Osteomyelitis can affect anyone. But, it is more common in infants, children, and older adults. People at greater risk include those with weak immune systems, recent injury, or diabetes.
Symptoms of osteomyelitis vary, depending on the cause and whether it starts quickly or slowly. These are the most common:
The symptoms of osteomyelitis may look like other medical conditions or problems. Always talk with your healthcare provider for a diagnosis.
Your healthcare provider will review your medical history and do a physical exam. Other tests may include:
Your healthcare provider will figure out the best treatment for you based on:
The goal for treatment of osteomyelitis is to cure the infection and minimize any long-term problems. Treatment may include:
Osteomyelitis calls for long-term care to prevent complications such as:
Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your healthcare provider:
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