Osteomyelitis is an infection of the bone, usually caused by a damaged or broken bone in the body being exposed to germs. While this is a rare condition, when it does occur it is often in older adults with bone damage in the spine. This infection is most commonly carried to the bone through the bloodstream, making the condition uncommon in healthy adults. Other causes of osteomyelitis are injury, leaving the damaged bone susceptible to germs and infection in the body.

This condition can become very serious if not treated. If you suspect that you have osteomyelitis, you should consult your physician immediately. He or she will most likely ask you a series of questions about your medical history and symptoms, and order diagnostic imagery such as an MRI to determine if an infection is present.

Transmission and symptoms of osteomyelitis

The transmission of osteomyelitis may vary depending on the circumstances surrounding the infection. The most common route for the infection to reach the bone marrow is through the bloodstream. This is commonly seen in people who have received blood transfusions, or receive drugs or medication intravenously. This condition can also be spread through injury or operation. In rare cases, this condition can be directly infected into the marrow.

The symptoms associated with osteomyelitis are similarly aligned with common infection-related pain and symptoms, including:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Lethargy
  • Irritability
  • Pain in a localized area
  • Swelling
  • Warmth and redness
  • Weight loss
  • Circulation decrease
  • Neural compression

If you are experiencing these symptoms, you should consult your doctor to determine the best course of treatment for your condition.

Treatment of osteomyelitis

If you have been diagnosed with osteomyelitis, your doctor will typically start you on a course of antibiotics to eliminate the infection. Once the infection is gone, your physician may determine that further treatment is required for the damaged bone in your body. For example, if you have a damaged vertebra in the spine that has been exposed to an infection, you may be recommended to undergo spine surgery to treat the damaged bone and prevent future spinal injury.

At Laser Spine Institute, we provide minimally invasive spine surgery to treat a range of spine conditions and have helped more than 75,000 patients find relief since 2005. Although we do not directly treat osteomyelitis with our outpatient procedures, we do treat age-related conditions such as degenerative disc disease and spinal arthritis that are sometimes present alongside osteomyelitis. For information about our minimally invasive spine surgery and the conditions we treat, please contact our caring team today.