Osteomyelitis is commonly known as bone infection that is caused due to bacteria and fungi. Bone infections are mostly common and occur mainly in the long bones of your arms and legs. Osteomyelitis is usually seen in hips, spine and feet. Osteomyelitis or bone infections occur suddenly or develop over a long period of time. Osteomyelitis can permanently damage your bones if left untreated.
Organisms like Staphylococcus aureus can lead to osteomyelitis. These causative organisms generally travel through the bloodstream resulting in bone infection. Once the infection begins in one part of your body, it can spread to the bones through blood stream
Organisms that enter in your body through severe injury, deep cut or wound can also infect your bones resulting in osteomyelitis. Bacteria can also enter in your body during a surgical procedure like hip replacement or bone fracture repair. Bacteria can also invade the bone when your bone breaks leading to osteomyelitis.
The causative organism Staphylococcus aureus generally appears on the skin surface but don’t always cause any major health issues. Infection is commonly seen in people with a weak immune system and people who have met with an accident recently.
The most common symptoms of osteomyelitis include the following:
- Redness in the infected area
- Swelling on the site of infection
- Stiffness or inability to use an affected limb
There are several tests that help in the diagnosis of osteomyelitis. The common diagnostic tests include:
- Physical examination
Physical examination helps in determining the swelling, pain and discoloration of the infected area.
- Blood test
Blood tests are done mostly to the check the presence of organism in your blood.
- Urine and Stool analysis
Urine and stool analysis is done to know the severity of infection in your body.
- Throat swabs
Throat swabs are rarely done to diagnose ostemyelitis. In rare cases this test is done to know the presence of organisms in your throat sample.
- Bone scans
Bone scans are done in case of bone injury which will give a clear detailed picture for your doctor to understand the condition of your bone. It also helps in knowing to what extent the damage is done in your bone due to the Staphylococcus aureus.
- MRI and bone biopsy
MRI and bone biopsy is rarely done when the exact information is not provided through bone scans and X-ray.
Risk Factors of Osteomyelitis
There are many different factors that can increase the chances of osteomyelitis. The common risk factors include:
- Diabetes that affect the blood supply to your bones
- Intravenous drug use
- Artificial joints that has become infected and can spread the infection
- Sickle cell disease
- Peripheral arterial disease
Osteomyelitis can be prevented by taking care of the minimal hygiene. You need to thoroughly wash and clean the open cuts and wounds to prevent the entry of organisms. Before placing the prosthesis, clean and dry the amputation sites. You can use proper suitable footwear to avoid injuries while jumping, running and other physical activities.