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You are here : 3-RX.com > Medical Encyclopedia > Diseases and Conditions > Osteomyelitis
      Category : Health Centers > Bones, Joints, and Muscles


Alternate Names : Bone Infections

Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors | Symptoms & Signs | Diagnosis & Tests | Prevention & Expectations | Treatment & Monitoring

Osteomyelitis describes serious bone infections that go deep into the affected bones.

What is going on in the body?

In almost all cases, this condition is caused by a bacterial infection. These infections usually occur in one of two ways:

  • An infection may occur in another part of the body and spread though the blood and into a bone.
  • A breakdown in the skin allows bacteria to go directly into the underlying bone. People with this type of infection often need long-term treatment with antibiotics and, sometimes, surgery.
  • What are the causes and risks of the infection?

    A bacteria called Staphylococcus aureus causes most cases. However, other bacteria are also possible culprits. The bacteria may enter the bone through the bloodstream or through the skin.

    The following conditions increase a person's risk for developing osteomyelitis:

  • trauma to the skin or bones, such as surgery, deep skin cuts, and bone fractures or breaks
  • chronic skin infections
  • diabetes, a condition that causes high blood sugar levels
  • poor circulation, which can be caused by diabetes, smoking, and high blood pressure
  • intravenous drug use, common among heroin users
  • artificial joints, such as a knee joint replacement or hip joint replacement
  • sickle cell anemia, an inherited condition that causes abnormal red blood cells


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    Osteomyelitis: Symptoms & Signs

    Author: Adam Brochert, MD
    Reviewer: Eric Berlin, MD
    Date Reviewed: 06/07/01

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