Whether you are just reading this because you have never heard of it before or you are experiencing it first hand, osteomyelitis is not a condition you want to get close to if you can help it. Although it is referred to as an infection in your bone, it can be much more complicated. More often than not, this infection doesn’t start directly in the bone, but more commonly begins in your bloodstream or nearby tissue. If the source is your actual bone, it is most likely from a trauma related incident, i.e., car accident, sports accident, or animal bite.
Osteomyelitis is interesting, because it can be a very serious condition that could and has lead to amputation or even death. Some time ago osteomyelitis was considered incurable. With new research, technology and state of the art hospitals and medical care, it can now be successfully treated when diagnosed early enough.
Like most infections, osteomyelitis is caused from a bacteria or fungi. Once the bone is infected it starts to deteriorate and form an abscess of pus blocking the blood supply to the bone. In a chronic case untreated, this abscess can lead to the bone dying, deeming an amputation.
Because ostemyelitis is such a vast term for all the ways an infection can occur, let's go over the different types of risk factors to categorize them better. First and most commonly, osteomyelitis can travel through the bloodstream. Whether the infection starts from an upper respiratory infection or a staph infection, it can aggressively spread through the bloodstream to your bone tissue. Therefore, if you think your sniffles and cough has gone on too long, you may want to consider checking in with your doctor. Osteomyelitis can also start after surgery. Any open wound is susceptible to infection, especially if screws, plates or pins are involved. Another major risk factor for this condition is people with poor circulation. It usually starts with a minor laceration and because the body is not able to respond quickly, you are opening the flood gates to a bigger problem, starting with your deep tissue.
While healthy bones are normally resistant to infection, one most normally occurs when the bone is left vulnerable. A prime example would be a puncture wound to the leg or having a pre-existing condition that lowers your body’s immune system such as diabetes, sickle cell anemia or HIV.
For more information regarding symptoms and treatment for osteomyelitis, look for my next article on this condition.