When bones develop an infection caused by bacterial or fungal microorganisms, osteomyelitis may cause symptoms of low to middle-grade fever, chills, lethargy and pain and swelling around the infected area. However, many cases of osteomyelitis do not present symptoms until the infection has worsened and an abnormally high fever does not respond to traditional medications.

Pathogens infect bones by entering the bloodstream through an open wound, bone fracture or when an internal infection exists that spreads to the bone. The pseudomonas and staphylococcus bacteria are often found in biopsies taken from a suspected case of osteomyelitis. Both kinds of bacterial infection respond well to antibiotics that are usually prescribed orally or intravenously, depending on the severity of the case. Other ways doctors provide antibiotic treatment for osteomyelitis is through patches, ointments or suppositories for young children who may not be able to swallow pills.

Problems Treating Osteomyelitis

Individuals diagnosed with certain medical conditions may experience difficulty in successfully treating osteomyelitis due to having compromised immune systems. You may be considered a “compromised healer” if you suffer from diabetes, malnutrition, cancer, chronic lymphedema or are a smoker. The elderly often experience issues when being treated for osteomyelitis due to failing organ functioning and pre-existing health problems associated with old age. More aggressive treatment methods may be indicated for those who are compromised that include bone grafts, hyperbaric oxygen therapy or tissue transfers.

Osteomyelitis and Osteoporosis–Two Different Conditions

Confusion between osteomyelitis and osteoporosis often occurs due to similar pronounciations. However, osteoporosis is not a bone infection but a chronic bone disorder that cannot be cured but may be prevented or delayed. Osteomyelitis is an infection that is not chronic and is curable with antibiotic use, rest, adequate blood flow and proper nutrition.