Osteomyelitis is an acute or chronic bone infection, typically caused by bacteria or fungi. These organisms can infect the bones through: the bloodstream from other infected areas of the body; injury (bacteria enter the bone through a major wound); or direct extension (spread to the bone from an adjacent wound or infection).

Risk factors are recent trauma, diabetes, hemodialysis, poor blood supply, and IV drug abuse. People who have had their spleen removed are also at higher risk for osteomyelitis. Symptoms of osteomyelitis can include bone pain, fever, general discomfort, local swelling, redness, nausea, chills, sweating and lower back pain.

Treatment to eliminate the infection and prevent it from getting worse may include antibiotics to destroy the bacteria, surgery to remove dead bone tissue if the infection does not go away, and possibly amputation for those with chronic osteomyelitis. When treatment is received, the outcome for acute osteomyelitis is usually good.

Talk to your health care provider to learn more information about osteomyelitis symptoms, risk factors and treatment options.