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Osteomyelitis

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Osteomyelitis the term used to call an infection of the bone or the bone marrow. The bacteria Staphylococcus aureus commonly cause it but other mycobacteria or pyogenic bacteria can also be causative agents.

There are several ways of how bacteria can infect the bones. One way of how a bone can be infected by bacteria is traveling through the bloodstream going to the bones. This is called hematogenous osteomyelitis, the most common way a person's bones can be infected.

OSTEOMYELITIS SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS

Bacteria can also infect the bone through direct infection. It can enter through a portal of entry such as wounds and open fractures. Injuries especially those that affect the bones are the common situations wherein this could happen.

A disruption of blood supply to a specific area of a bone may also cause osteomyelitis. This is most common to older people suffering from atherosclerosis. The areas affected with this type of bone infection are the feet most especially the toes.

Osteomyelitis is more common in men than in women though it can actually afflict anyone regardless of age and race. There are also certain factors that make a person more vulnerable to bone infection. Those who have diabetes, receiving intravenous transfusions, with weak immune systems, with sickle cell disease, and the elderly are more prone to osteomyelitis.

OSTEOMYELITIS DIAGNOSIS

Diagnosis of osteomyelitis would include a general medical checkup. The physician may also request for different laboratory examinations such as blood tests, blood culture, needle aspiration, biopsy and a bone scan.

Osteomyelitis chooses no one and has no particular target. It can happen to anybody regardless of age, sex and race. But it the causative agent that may cause osteomyelitis may differ depending on the patient's age.

A newborn younger than four months, if suffering from osteomyelitis, could be caused by the infective agents Enterobacter species, Staphylococcus aureus, and the group A and B of the Streptococcus species. For children with ages 4 months up to 4 years the common causative agents of osteomyelitis are group A Streptococcus Species, Staphylococcus aureus, Enterobacter species and Haemophilus influenza. For children from 4 years old to young adults, the causative agents that commonly cause osteomyelitis are Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus species group, Haemophilus Influenzae as well as the Enterobacter species. For adults it is mostly the Staphylococcus aureus that is responsible for osteomyelitis.

Since osteomyelitis is an infection, symptoms that will manifest would most likely include pain, redness, swelling, loss of function, and warmth on the affected area. The person may also experience nausea due to infection, discomfort, and he/she may also observe pus draining out of the affected area. Excessive sweating, lower back pain, chills, swelling on the lower extremities, and changes in posture and gait may also indicate osteomyelitis.
osteomyelitis
Image: Osteomyelitis


Because the signs and symptoms of osteomyelitis are quite common signs and symptoms of lesser serious illnesses, some people disregard it. But now you know that these signs and symptoms can be indications of something more serious and life threatening, then it would be best to consult a doctor right away.

OSTEOMYELITIS TREATMENT

Osteomyelitis should be treated as early as possible to prevent any deformities and long-term complications. Treatment is done with one main purpose and that is to remove the infection from the affected bone.

The treatment can be a combination of giving medications, drainage, splinting, and surgery. Giving of medications is the initial step in treating osteomyelitis. Antibiotics will aid in the elimination of any bacteria in the bloodstream that may re-infect the affected bone. The dosage and type of antibiotic will depend on the results of the laboratory examinations.

Drainage will be done if there is an opening on the affected part such as an abscess or an open wound. Splinting will also be necessary to immobilize the affected part to avoid more trauma and help it heal at a faster rate.

Surgery will be done to scrape out the destroyed bones. This will also more or less ensure that the infection will not spread to any other bones. Most often than not, surgery tend to have a good outcome but there are also times that the surgeons may go as far as amputation (for the extremities).

Osteomyelitis is an infection. It could start from a simple, what would seem like a superficial wound, and grow to something more serious thus one of the best ways to prevent osteomyelitis from happening would be to maintain proper hygiene. Do not leave any wound, no matter how big or small it is, untreated. Be sure to use clean materials in cleaning and treating any wound. Once treated, it should be protected from the dust, dirt and other harmful things in the environment so it would be good to cover it with bandages.

Since wounds are not the only point of entry of bacteria that could cause osteomyelitis, it would also be good to always be cautious. It can also enter the blood stream through dental abscesses and other openings that could lead to the blood stream so take note of them.


A good immune system to fight the invading bacteria will also be an advantage when it comes to preventing osteomyelitis. A healthy lifestyle – proper diet and no vices would help you strengthen your immune system. It would also be good to practice safe sex so as not to contract Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) or AIDS which could virtually disable your immune system and make you vulnerable to all kinds of diseases include osteomyelitis.

OSTEOMYELITIS PREVENTION

Another bad habit that a person should stop doing in order to prevent osteomyelitis is the use of illegal drugs especially those that need to be administered intravenously. One, sharing of needles is one way of contracting HIV. Two, intravenous administration creates a break in the skin, the body's first line of defense, and would make it vulnerable to bacterial attacks due to the opening. Osteomyelitis can actually be easily prevented if a person has the will as well as the drive to live a healthy life.
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