A bone infection, also known as osteomyelitis, develops when germs reach one or more bones, causing swelling and inflammation.
In the past, these infections were considered incurable. But medical advancements have made osteomyelitis a highly treatable condition, thanks to powerful antibiotics and innovative surgical techniques.
Still, it’s essential to detect bone infections as early as possible to avoid serious complications.
Our team at Wound Evolution - Wound Care and Hyperbaric Medicine provides specialized care for treating wounds, including rare conditions like bone infections. Here’s what you should know about osteomyelitis and whether you could be at risk.
Getting to the source of bone infections
Most bone infections develop in response to bacteria found on the skin, like staphylococcus bacteria, but other germs or fungi can also cause problems. These organisms can reach your bone in a variety of ways, such as:
- Through infected tissue, like a skin sore
- From other areas in your body by way of your bloodstream
- During surgery to repair broken bones or replace joints
Anyone at any age can experience a bone infection, including infants and children. But children typically have problems in their long bones, like their arms or legs. In adults, bone infections usually occur in the spine, hips, or feet.
In most cases, osteomyelitis requires surgery to remove infected or dead bone, along with strong antibiotics to fight infection.
The signs of a bone infection
Osteomyelitis can occur suddenly or slowly over time. As an infection develops, it’s common to experience a variety of symptoms, including:
- Redness, swelling, or warmth in the area
- Localized pain
- General discomfort
- Fever, chills, or excessive sweating
- An open wound, possibly with pus
It’s also possible to have osteomyelitis without obvious signs or to confuse symptoms with other health conditions. Unfortunately, without treatment a bone infection can cause serious problems, ranging from bone death and septic arthritis to impaired bone growth and skin cancer.
Knowing your personal risks of bone infection can help you detect a problem early on.
Recognizing your risks of bone infection
As we said earlier, anyone can develop a bone infection, but certain issues can increase your chances of developing this condition.
Factors that increase your risks of bone infection include:
- Experiencing a recent injury
- Undergoing medical procedures, like bone surgery or dialysis
- Having poor blood circulation or a compromised immune system
- Living with chronic conditions, like diabetes or kidney failure
- Using injectable illicit drugs
If you understand your personal risk of developing a bone infection, you can take proper steps to prevent infection. These steps generally include avoiding cuts and scrapes whenever possible and cleaning injuries as quickly as possible if they occur.
If you have a wound, whether it’s a surgical wound or skin injury, watch for signs of infection and care for them as directed by your doctor.
To learn more about bone infection and wound care, call us at Wound Evolution to schedule an appointment or book a visit online today. Our offices are located in Dallas, Fort Worth, and San Antonio, Texas, as well as Overland Park, Kansas.