How to Prevent Skeletal Infections

Your bones and joints are the framework for your entire body and support your every movement. But when infection ravages the skeleton, getting around can be a painful experience. Fortunately, you can protect yourself from bone-weakening conditions with a little knowledge. In this article, we will discuss Lyme Disease, osteomyelitis, and septic arthritis. Here's a preview:

  • Lyme DiseaseLyme disease is caused by a bacterium called Borrelia burgdorferi, which is carried by ticks. The first sign of a Lyme disease infection is a rapidly expanding circular rash that occurs at the site where the tick was attached. Other symptoms of the disease vary widely and can include flulike symptoms, such as headache, fever, chills, and muscle aches.
  • OsteomyelitisOsteomyelitis is most often caused by the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus. People with diabetes and people who have recently suffered a trauma such as a compound broken bone are at risk for infection. Chronic osteomyelitis occurs when an infection persists due to inadequate treatment or lack of treatment; this condition can cause the infected bone tissue to die.
  • Septic ArthritisSeptic arthritis is caused by bacteria that spread through the bloodstream from another infected area in the body, or when the joint is directly infected through injury or surgery. Symptoms of an infection include swollen joints (typically in weight-bearing joints such as the knee or hip) and intense pain. Early diagnosis and treatment are important to prevent long-term damage to the joint.

This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.

Preventing Lyme Disease

©2006 Publications International, Ltd. In the United States, Lyme disease is primarily carried by deer ticks and other black-legged ticks.

The bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi, which enters the body through a tick bite, causes Lyme disease and its bone-affecting counterpart, Lyme arthritis. Lyme disease takes its name from Old Lyme, Connecticut, where it was first recognized.

Lyme Disease Infection Information

Lyme disease symptoms are varied and show up all over the body. Skin rash; neurological issues, including paralysis, memory loss, and mood changes; irregular heartbeat; flulike symptoms, such as headache, fever, chills, and muscle aches; and joint pain that can lead to Lyme arthritis are all indications of Lyme disease. The first stage of the infection is a skin rash called erythema migrans, which is a rapidly expanding circular patch, sometimes with central clearing, that occurs within days at the site where the tick was attached.

Several weeks after an infected tick (in the United States, primarily deer ticks and other black-legged ticks) bites a person, the joints swell and then decrease in size, triggering Lyme arthritis, which can later reactivate and again swell the same joints. With time, the joint-swelling episodes become less frequent and don't last as long.

Most cases of Lyme disease can be cured with antibiotics. For some people, however, the joint swelling becomes a long-term condition, although eventually most Lyme arthritis symptoms will go away. In rare cases, people with Lyme arthritis still have symptoms even after long-term antibiotic therapy and may be diagnosed with "antibiotic-treatment-resistant Lyme arthritis."

Who's at Risk for Lyme Disease?

Ticks will feed on anyone, so if you're outside in their habitat, you're at risk. The majority of Lyme disease cases occur in the Northeast, northern California, and the Upper Midwest (especially Minnesota and Wisconsin). People who work or otherwise spend a lot of time in wooded areas are more likely to run across the little bacteria-carriers.

Defensive Measures Against Lyme Disease

The key to preventing potentially disabling Lyme arthritis is early diagnosis and antibiotic treatment. That said, preventing tick bites or removing ticks from the body promptly will lower your chances of contracting Lyme disease in the first place. Ticks that are removed within 24 hours of when they start feeding rarely, if ever, transmit this infection.

Osteomyelitis, or bone infection, typically happens after a traumatic injury and can cause bone tissue to die if left untreated. To learn about treating and avoiding osteomyelitis, go to the next page.

This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.

Preventing Osteomyelitis

©2006 Publications International, Ltd. Osteomyelitis is a painful bone infection that typically occurs through direct infection after a traumatic injury.

Staphylococcus aureus is the bacterium that most often causes osteomyelitis. In rare cases, other types of bacteria or fungi also might cause the disease.

Osteomyelitis Infection Information

Osteomyelitis is a fancy word that means bone infection. It typically occurs through direct infection during a traumatic injury (a break or puncture wound) or through bacteria in the bloodstream that travel to and infect the bone. Chronic osteomyelitis occurs when an infection persists due to inadequate treatment or lack of treatment. As a result, the bone doesn't get an adequate supply of blood, and the bone tissue dies. Aggressive treatment requires antibiotics and a surgical procedure to clean up the dead bone.

Osteomyelitis can cause severe pain in the infected area, as well as chills, fever, fatigue, and nausea. Typically, the bones of the legs, upper arms, pelvis, collarbone, and spine are affected. Antibiotics are prescribed for treatment and are given intravenously at first, and then by mouth.

Who's at Risk for Osteomyelitis?

People who have diabetes; those who have had a recent trauma, such as a compound fracture (when a broken bone breaks through the skin); people on dialysis; those who use catheters; people who've had orthopedic surgery; and intravenous drug users are more susceptible to osteomyelitis.

Defensive Measures Against Osteomyelitis

To prevent the kind of osteomyelitis that occurs after injury, practice good hygiene by cleaning any wound or cut with soap and hot water. Hold the injured area under running water for at least five minutes to help flush out bacteria and impurities. Apply an over-the-counter antibiotic cream or ointment to all wounds and cover the site with sterile gauze. Change the bandage often, cleaning the wound each time. If healing doesn't begin quickly, visit a physician.

As for osteomyelitis associated with other diseases, such as diabetes or atherosclerosis, the best prevention is to avoid or properly manage these conditions. Be sure to follow your physician's orders regarding diet, exercise, and medication requirements.

Septic arthritis causes swollen joints, intense pain, and sometimes partial paralysis. Go to the next page to learn about avoiding this skeletal infection.

This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.

Preventing Septic Arthritis

©2006 Publications International, Ltd. Septic arthritis can lead to swollen, painful joints.

Septic arthritis is caused by a variety of bacteria, most often Staphylococcus and Neisseria gonorrhoeae.

Septic Arthritis Infection Information

Septic arthritis develops either when bacteria spread through the bloodstream from another infected area in the body and infect a joint, or when the joint is directly infected through traumatic injury or surgery. The condition causes swollen joints (typically in weight-bearing joints such as the knee or hip) and intense pain. Sometimes, the swelling and pain are so severe that they cause partial paralysis. Early diagnosis and treatment with antibiotics is important to stave off long-term damage to the joint.

Who's at Risk for Septic Arthritis?

People with a chronic illness, an immunosuppressive illness, a bacterial infection, rheumatoid arthritis, a joint injury, an artificial joint implant, and those who've had recent joint surgery are at increased risk. Children, especially those younger than 3, also have a higher risk of septic arthritis.

Defensive Measures Against Septic Arthritis

Your physician might prescribe preventive antibiotics if you are at high risk for septic arthritis; early treatment is essential to prevent long-lasting joint damage. If you are otherwise healthy and would like to decrease your chances of developing septic arthritis, there are a couple things you can do:

  • Get regular exercise. A body full of strong, healthy bones, muscles, and joints isn't as prone to developing some kinds of arthritis.
  • Control your weight. Maintaining a weight that is appropriate for your height and bone structure can help reduce the risk of developing arthritis in load-bearing joints, such as the knees.

Skeletal infections can be extremely painful and can have long-term affects on your health. Follow these tips and guidlines to help prevent skeletal infections, and seek treatment immediately if you think you might be infected.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Laurie L. Dove is an award-winning Kansas-based journalist and author whose work has been published internationally. A dedicated consumer advocate, Dove specializes in writing about health, parenting, fitness, and travel. An active member of the National Federation of Press Women, Dove also is the former owner of a parenting magazine and a weekly newspaper.

© Publications International, Ltd.This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.