Bone Infection Symptoms

  • Symptoms

    Fever, bone pain, swelling, and redness over the infection site are symptoms of acute osteomyelitis Table 01. A fever is one of the early symptoms of osteomyelitis, and may precede or follow the pain that develops in the infected area of bone. Swelling, redness, warmth, and tenderness also occur over the infected bone, and may occur in nearby joints such as the knee, making movement painful. Back pain is a symptom of vertebral osteomyelitis. Other symptoms of acute osteomyelitis may include vomiting, chills, and a feeling of general illness or lack of energy. A blood test may show a high white blood cell count, indicating that your body has launched a counterattack against invading organisms. An open, draining wound over the infected site is also a sign of osteomyelitis, but is more likely to occur later in the progression of the disease, or as a symptom of chronic osteomyelitis.

    Pain is the foremost symptom of chronic osteomyelitis Table 01. Chronic osteomyelitis can persist for weeks, months, or years, although there will be times when the patient does not experience any symptoms. When symptoms are present, they include bone pain, fatigue, general discomfort or an ill feeling, recurring infections in the soft tissue above the bone, and an open, draining wound caused when pus formed in the infected bone breaks through the surface of the skin.

    Table 1.  Symptoms of Osteomyelitis

    Bone pain
    Swelling and redness of the skin
    General discomfort or ill feeling
    Drainage of pus through the skin
  • Risk Factors

    People who are diabetic or who have had a recent trauma have an increased risk of developing osteomyelitis. Trauma such as an injury or a wound provides an opportunity for bacteria to enter the body and cause an infection that may spread to the bones. Diabetic patients are especially susceptible to foot injuries and sores that can become infected, leading to osteomyelitis.

    Osteomyelitis occurs in both sexes, but is twice as common in males as in females. Osteomyelitis can occurs at all ages in both males and females.

    Acute osteomyelitis is most common in rapidly growing children. Most children are too young to have had the repeated, ongoing episodes that characterize chronic osteomyelitis. In addition, the pattern of blood vessels in children makes their long bones (i.e., arm and leg bones) more susceptible to osteomyelitis.

    Orthopedic surgery and the use of orthopedic prosthetic devices such as an artificial knee or hip can also increase the risk of osteomyelitis. Surgery involving bones and joints increases the risk of osteomyelitis because of the possibility of introducing bacteria from the hospital setting. Introducing a foreign object into the body (i.e., a bullet, or a tool during surgery) poses an additional risk.

    Any illness that lowers the body's resistance to infection increases the risk of developing osteomyelitis. Conditions such as AIDS and sickle cell anemia are potential risk factors because they decrease your body's innate ability to fight the invading bacteria that can cause osteomyelitis. Intravenous drug use, alcoholism, kidney dialysis, malnutrition, and advanced age are also risk factors, as they all decrease your immune response.

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