Osteomyelitis is an infection of the bone. It may be:
- Acute—last a short time
- Chronic—lasts a long time
Certain bacteria cause osteomyelitis. They come in contact with bone tissue and start to grow. Bacteria can reach the bone through:
- The bloodstream—blood can spread infection to other sites
- A deep cut that exposes the bone to bacteria on the top of the skin
- An infection in nearby tissue such as a skin ulcer
Osteomyelitis is more common in adolescents and young adults. Your chances are also higher for:
- Poor blood flow
- Injured bones or skin
- Recent joint surgery including fixing a broken bone
- Soft tissue infection
- Weakened immune system
- IV drug use
- Using a tube to drain urine or get medicine
- Pressure injuries
Symptoms may cause:
- Bone pain
- Fever or chills
- Soreness, warmth, swelling, or redness of the skin or joint
- Drainage of pus
- Weight loss
- Problems moving a certain area
- A sore over a bone that doesn't heal
|Skin Infection Spreading to Bone|
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The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. You may have:
Antibiotics treat the infection. Acute osteomyelitis care can last up to 6 weeks. Chronic osteomyelitis needs care for a longer period of time. Medicines are through an IV or taken by mouth.
To lower your chances of osteomyelitis:
- Seek immediate medical care for infections or injuries.
- See your doctor for any sores that do not heal.
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases https://www.niams.nih.gov
Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons https://orthoinfo.org
Canadian Orthopaedic Association http://coa-aco.org
When It Hurts to Move—Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation https://whenithurtstomove.org
Carek PJ, Dickerson LM, Sack JL. Diagnosis and management of osteomyelitis. Am Fam Physician. 2001;63(12):2413-2420.
Osteomyelitis. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116047/Osteomyelitis . Updated September 11, 2017. Accessed May 22, 2018.
Osteomyelitis. Kids Health—Nemours Foundation website. Available at: http://kidshealth.org/en/teens/osteomyelitis.html. Updated October 2013. Accessed May 22, 2018.
Osteomyelitis. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at:https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/musculoskeletal-and-connective-tissue-disorders/infections-of-joints-and-bones/osteomyelitis. Updated May 2017. Accessed May 22, 2018.
Osteomyelitis. Patient website. Available at: https://patient.info/health/osteomyelitis-leaflet. Updated August 11, 2016. Accessed May 22, 2018.
- Reviewer: David L. Horn, MD, FACP
- Review Date: 05/2018
- Update Date: 05/22/2018