Osteomyelitis in an inflammation of the bone, usually the bone marrow and the surrounding bone tissues due to an infection. It is a rare but extremely serious condition. Once infection occurs, the bone marrow will swell up and this will hinder blood from flowing properly. When this happens, the bone cells will not get sufficient oxygen from the blood and may lead to the bone dying. We will discuss about the causes and symptoms of Osteomyelitis in this article.
Bone inflammation is usually caused by a bacterial called Staphylococcus aureus. It is associated with open skin ulcers which can cause trauma to the tissues. However, our bone are extremely well protected by the skin and bacteria will not get to infect it usually. The bone is at risk when there is trauma to the bone or bones have been broken due to various reasons such as an accidental fall or sports injuries. Patients who have undergone open surgery recently are also at risk as bacteria could have entered during the surgical process if hygiene standards were not strict enough. Patients who had artificial joint replacements are also at risk due to material incompatibility issues. Once infection happens, it spreads at an alarming rate to the nearby tissues.
Symptoms vary from each patient. Common symptoms include swelling and tenderness in the limbs, fever and pain. Symptoms will take a long time to develop. The usual areas which are infected first are the spinal vertebrae. Patients will often not realise that they have contracted Osteomyelitis. However, there is one unique characteristic in which the pain at the bones are unable to be relieved despite the use of oral painkillers or even heat packs. Sooner or later, pus will start to build up in the affected area and an abscess will form. Blood tests will also not be able to pick up the disease. Patients who feel the pain at their artificial joint will encounter prolonged nigging pain which will soon develop into a chronic infection.
Osteomyelitis takes a long time for symptoms to start surfacing and even so, symptoms are not easily distinguished from normal infection. Patients can be suffering from it for years before finally realising it. In mild cases, antibiotics will be prescribed and the recovery time is short. In severe cases, intravenous antibiotics will be required followed by drainage of the pus. If artificial joints are the ones responsible, they will have to be removed and new ones will have to replace it.