How to Prevent Skeletal Infections

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.