Bone infections (also known as osteomyelitis)

Osteomyelitis is a serious condition characterized by inflammation or infection of the bone, which can cause significant pain, disability, and even death. Bone infections can be caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi, or other microorganisms and can occur in any bone in the body. In this article, we will provide an overview of osteomyelitis, its symptoms, causes, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention.


The symptoms of osteomyelitis can vary depending on the severity and location of the infection. Common symptoms include:

  • Pain and tenderness in the affected bone
  • Swelling, redness, and warmth around the affected area
  • Fever and chills
  • Fatigue and malaise
  • Nausea and vomiting

In severe cases, osteomyelitis can cause bone deformities, chronic pain, and disability.


Bone infections can be caused by a variety of microorganisms, including bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites. The most common cause of osteomyelitis is bacterial infection, usually Staphylococcus aureus, which can enter the bone through an open wound or surgery. Other risk factors for osteomyelitis include:

  • Diabetes
  • Peripheral vascular disease
  • Immunosuppression
  • Intravenous drug use
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Trauma or injury to the bone
  • Joint replacement surgery
  • Poor dental hygiene


Diagnosis of osteomyelitis usually involves a combination of imaging tests, such as X-rays, CT scans, or MRI, and laboratory tests, such as blood cultures, bone biopsy, and tissue culture. Your doctor may also perform a physical exam to check for signs of inflammation, tenderness, or swelling.


The treatment of osteomyelitis usually involves a combination of antibiotics and surgical intervention. Antibiotics are typically prescribed to control the infection and prevent it from spreading. Surgery may be necessary to remove infected bone tissue, drain abscesses, or implant antibiotic beads or spacers.


Preventing osteomyelitis involves reducing your risk factors and practicing good hygiene. Some tips for preventing osteomyelitis include:

  • Practicing good dental hygiene
  • Keeping wounds clean and covered
  • Avoiding intravenous drug use
  • Controlling underlying medical conditions, such as diabetes or peripheral vascular disease
  • Following proper infection control protocols during surgery or other medical procedures


Osteomyelitis is a serious condition that requires prompt diagnosis and treatment. If you experience symptoms of osteomyelitis, such as bone pain, fever, or swelling, seek medical attention immediately. With proper diagnosis and treatment, most people with osteomyelitis can make a full recovery and avoid serious complications. Remember, prevention is key, so take steps to reduce your risk factors and practice good hygiene to keep your bones healthy.