Osteomyelitis is a potentially serious condition that can affect both children and adults, especially those with diabetes. It requires immediate treatment by an orthopedist to prevent complications such as the need for amputation. If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with osteomyelitis, you are likely to have many questions. Here are the answers to some common things patients ask about this condition.

What is osteomyelitis?

Osteomyelitis is an infection in bone tissues. It can be caused by bacteria or fungi and can be caused when an infection in another part of the body is transferred to the bone through the blood stream. Bacteria and fungi can also enter the bone after a serious injury, such as a fracture, leaves the bone exposed or through a surgical site, such as via the incision for a hip replacement or knee replacement. Osteomyelitis can develop slowly over a long period of time, or it may develop very quickly. It is most common in people who have diabetes, sickle cell disease, or peripheral arterial disease; and those who smoke, use intravenous drugs, or are on hemodialysis.

What are the symptoms?

The symptoms of osteomyelitis are similar to those of other kinds of infection. Patients typically experience pain and redness at the site of the infection, as well as fever, chills, swelling, and malaise. It is common for the affected limb to become stiff or immobile, which usually causes patients to call an orthopedist and get a diagnosis. To make a diagnosis, your doctor may order blood tests and diagnostic imaging tests, including X-rays, MRIs, or bone scans.

What treatments are available?

In some cases, osteomyelitis can be treated with oral antibiotics, or for severe cases, IV antibiotics. Typically, patients need a long course of antibiotics, usually up to six weeks. Some patients may require surgery to treat osteomyelitis. During surgery, your orthopedist will remove the part of the bone that is infected as well as any abscesses that are in the affected area.

Bone infections can be serious, so make an appointment with an orthopedist in Queens at Able Orthopedic & Sports Medicine if you experience the symptoms. Dial (347) 537-2404 to schedule a consultation.

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