Osteomyelitis is a bone infection caused by bacteria and germs and typically develops in the bones of the feet, hips, and vertebrae. However, the infection can spread to bones in other areas of the body, resulting in serious complications. Our Austin wound healing podiatrists explain how to recognize the condition, so you can seek treatment immediately to prevent the condition from becoming a more serious problem.  Signs of osteomyelitis

Osteomyelitis Risk Factors and Symptoms

A person with a weakened immune system can be at a greater risk of developing osteomyelitis, as well as those with diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis.  

Other Risk Factors for Osteomyelitis

  • Sickle cell disease
  • AIDS or HIV
  • IV drug use or alcoholism
  • Poor blood supply
  • Recent bone surgery 
  • Recent injury

Symptoms of Osteomyelitis

  • Pain in the area of the infection
  • Fever
  • Tenderness and warmth
  • Swelling around the bone
  • Irritability
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Reduced range of motion

Common Causes of Osteomyelitis

Osteomyelitis is caused by germs and bacteria entering the bone. Staphylococcus aureus is a type of staph bacteria that can cause this infection. If, for example, you have an open wound from a diabetic foot ulcer, bacteria and germs can enter the wound and cause complications.

Other Causes of Osteomyelitis

  • Bacteria and germs that travel through the bloodstream when another area of the body has an infection
  • Bacteria and germs that enter the body during surgery to repair a bone fracture or to replace a joint

Diagnosing and Treating Osteomyelitis

If you have signs of osteomyelitis, see a doctor as soon as possible to diagnose the condition and begin treatment. The sooner you are treated, the less likely serious complications will develop.

Tests to Diagnose Osteomyelitis

  • Blood tests
  • Imaging tests such as an X-ray or MRI
  • Bone scan or bone biopsy

Treatments for Osteomyelitis

  • Intravenous (IV) and/or oral antibiotics
  • Surgery to remove the infected bone
  • Bone or tissue graft

If treatments for osteomyelitis do not stop the infection from spreading to surrounding tissue and other bones, amputation may be needed to stop the infection and save your life.

Bone Infection Prevention Tips

While not every case of osteomyelitis can be prevented, there are some tips that can decrease your risk of developing a bone infection, including:

  • Keep it clean. If you have a cut or wound, keep it clean by washing it daily with warm water and mild soap.
  • Cover it up. Keep the wound covered with a sterile bandage or loose dressing to prevent germs and bacteria from entering the sore.
  • Do a daily check. If you have diabetes, it is essential to do a daily self-check of your feet. You will want to look for any wounds, injuries, abnormalities, or signs of infection.
  • Contact a podiatrist. One of the most important things you can do if you notice a wound on your foot or signs of infection is to contact a podiatrist for an evaluation. The sooner you seek treatment, the less likely you are to experience serious complications.

Contact Our Austin Wound Care Podiatrists

If you need a wound care podiatrist, contact our office today. Austin Foot and Ankle Specialists are here to help and can provide a wide variety of advanced treatment options for bone infections and more. To schedule an appointment, contact us online or by calling our Austin office at 512-328-8900.


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