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Osteomyelitis refers to a condition where the bone gets infected. Since bones are made of living cells, they can get infected through external agents. The infecting agents can reach the bone through the blood or through direct means, especially if there’s an injury where the bone is exposed. External germs might enter into the bone region and cause infections, most of which can be fatal.


Due to the nature of the infection, it is mostly the long bones that are affected by osteomyelitis. The common bones where this occurs are femur (the long thigh bone) and humerus (the long upper arm bone). Infections can also occur in the pelvic girdle, the clavicle (collarbone), the spine, the phalanges of the foot and the carpals and the tarsals of the hands and feet.

There is no age propensity for osteomyelitis, because it is an infection that can occur in people of any age. But, because the bones in children and people above the age of fifty years are more vulnerable, these groups of people are more at risk of osteomyelitis.

Symptoms of Osteomyelitis

Though osteomyelitis is a bone condition, the symptoms of the disease are not restricted to the skeleton. There are many signs and symptoms that are evident all over the body. Also, the signs and symptoms are different in children and in adults.

In children with osteomyelitis, there might be short-term fevers that intermittently come and go, a severe pain where the infection has occurred and also externally visible signs such as redness and swelling at the point of infection. You will also find the area to be warmer to the touch than the rest of the body. These children will become inactive and will become highly irritable.

Adults with osteomyelitis have most of the same conditions, but they will be to a much severe degree. These adults will also have a presence of pus-like drainage from the wound that is associated with the infection (in cases of bone infections caused due to trauma).

Osteomyelitis can happen without any external signs and symptoms too, and this generally happens if the person hasn’t had any visible injury as the cause of the infection. The only indication that might be perceivable in such cases is an acute pain in the area of the infection.

Causes of Osteomyelitis

Various kinds of infections contribute to the condition of osteomyelitis. Some of these infections are as follows:-

* Infections might occur due to an injury, which may cause external germs to come into contact with the bone.
* Problems with surgery, such as using unclean instruments especially in using metal fixtures for the bones, might cause infections to the bones.
* Some infections can happen through the bloodstream. This happens more in children, and are commonly brought in by infections through the respiratory system and the urinary tract.
* If the person has problems with blood circulation, the white blood corpuscles cannot reach the bone areas. This can cause pathogens to subsist within them, causing fatal infections.

Risks of Osteomyelitis

People who get infected easily due to an inferior constitution of their blood have a higher risk of osteomyelitis. They must be on their guard when they have injuries to their bones or when they undergo some bone surgeries. Also, people who consume drugs and people who have had to use tubes for intravenous entry into their bodies, such as during dialysis, are at a greater risk of osteomyelitis.

Prevention of Osteomyelitis

People with low blood circulation and a higher chance of infections must always be very careful about their bodies. They must take care that they are not injured often, and they must take care not to keep any wounds open on their bodies. Such conditions must be revealed to the surgeon if the person has to undergo any surgery.

Treatment of Osteomyelitis

Osteomyelitis is very difficult to treat, mostly because it is difficult to stop the infection from spreading to the other bones. Also, bone cells are not as receptive to antibiotics as other cells of the body are. The doctor will try to stop the infection from spreading with aggressive antibiotic methods, or if the situation has exacerbated to severe degrees, the bone might be removed from the body and replaced with a metal rod. It is more difficult to treat osteomyelitis in adults than in children.

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