Osteomyelitis

This is the medical term for a bone infection, usually caused by bacteria. Usually, it affects the long bones in the legs, but it can also affect other bones such as those in the back or arms.

The condition can also be a complication of certain health conditions, such as diabetes.

Symptoms 
These include:

  • A high temperature
  • Pain in the bone
  • Swelling or redness in the affected area 

Osteomyelitis can affect people of any age, and it can go unnoticed in very young children, as they don’t always develop a fever and they may not be able to communicate any bone pain. Consult a GP if your child becomes irritable, has a reduced appetite and is reluctant to use a certain part of their body (typically an arm or leg).

Causes
There are two ways Osteomyelitis can occur:

  • After an injury  such as a bone fracture or animal bite
  • Via the bloodstream. This is called haematogenous osteomyelitis

Certain things can increase your chances of developing osteomyelitis. Diabetes,  for example, or a condition that weakens the immune system, such as rheumatoid arthritis.

Treatment
If diagnosed early, osteomyelitis can be treated with antibiotics. In severe or chronic cases, surgery may be required in combination with antibiotics.