This condition is an infection of the bone cells or the bone marrow that can lead to death of the bone tissue. If not treated properly, it can spread from the original site of infection to other parts of the body. In adults, osteomyelitis commonly affects the spine, pelvis and feet. In children, it commonly affects the ends of the long bones in the arms and legs.
This type of infection can be caused by a bacteria or fungus. These microorganisms can invade the bone through the bloodstream, they can migrate from nearby tissues, or they can be introduced during trauma or surgery. Diabetics, intravenous drug abusers and people whose immune systems are compromised are more susceptible to osteomyelitis.
Once the bone has been invaded, the bone deteriorates to form a pus-filled pocket of infection. The infection disrupts the blood supply to the bone, which can cause portions of the bone to die. New bone may begin grow around the infected site.
Symptoms of an acute infection can include fever, chills, and severe, localized pain. The infected area may become warm, red, swollen, and very tender. If the infection is not treated properly, it may progress to a chronic stage. Chronic osteomyelitis is a severe, persistent infection that can lead to chronic fatigue and an open, draining wound near the infection.
Osteomyelitis is a serious condition that requires aggressive treatment. Treatment options may include antibiotics (administered orally or through an IV line), surgical cleaning of the infection, and the insertion of antibiotic-impregnated beads into the infected bone. Severe infections may require amputation.