Osteomyelitis is an infection of the bone that affects two out of every 10,000 people. It is caused by several different types of bacteria, the most common being staphylococcus aureus. If left untreated, osteomyelitis can cause extreme loss of blood supply to the bone and eventually lead to dead bone tissue.

Osteomyelitis affects children and adults in different ways. In adults, the vertebrae and pelvis are affected, and in children, it usually affects the ends of long bones such as the femur and tibia.

Who is at risk?

An X-ray of two feet from above indicating osteomyelitisThe type of people most at risk for developing osteomyelitis are:

  • Diabetics
  • Elderly
  • Patients with weak immune systems
  • Sickle cell disease sufferers
  • Drug users


The most common causes of osteomyelitis include:

  • Open bone injuries such as fractures
  • Open wounds
  • Soft tissue infection
  • Direct infection from another body part
  • Minor trauma


Symptoms of osteomyelitis include:

  • Extreme sweating
  • Pain, tenderness and swelling in infected area
  • Nausea
  • Pus drainage in skin
  • Lower back pain
  • Swollen ankles, feet and legs


The best way to avoid osteomyelitis is to always thoroughly clean open cuts and wounds. Treatment for osteomyelitis includes:

  • Drainage of open wounds or abscesses through needle aspiration
  • Antibiotics
  • Immobilization by splinting or casting

If any of the above symptoms apply to you, come see our specialists at the Center for Diabetic Limb Preservation at Northwest Hospital so they can treat and prevent further complications.