by Michelle Badash, MS
Osteomyelitis is an infection of the bone. It may be:
Certain bacteria cause osteomyelitis. They come in contact with bone tissue and start to grow. Bacteria can reach the bone through:
Osteomyelitis is more common in adolescents and young adults. Your chances are also higher for:
Symptoms may cause:
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:
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases
Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
Canadian Orthopaedic Association
When It Hurts to Move—Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation
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: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116047/Osteomyelitis . Updated September 11, 2017. Accessed May 22, 2018.
Osteomyelitis. Kids Health—Nemours Foundation website. Available at:
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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.
Last reviewed May 2018 by David L. Horn, MD, FACP
Last Updated: 5/22/2018
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