A bone infection, also known as osteomyelitis, is a serious condition that can be treated by a podiatrist. Those with diabetes are at risk for developing osteomyelitis if they have a foot ulcer that does not heal and becomes infected. The infection can spread to the bone.
Osteomyelitis can commonly be treated by surgery and strong antibiotics. It is important to seek treatment at the first sign of an infection in order to prevent other complications from happening such as amputation.
Causes of Bone Infections
A bone infection can be caused by staph bacteria entering the bone through an injury or through the bloodstream. Those with a condition such as diabetes are at a greater risk for a bone infection. Some others who are at risk include those with:
- HIV or AIDS
- Sickle cell disease
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Illicit drug use
- Poor circulation
- Recent bone surgery or injury
Symptoms of Osteomyelitis
Those with osteomyelitis may not have any symptoms of the condition and not realize that an infection is present. This can be dangerous since the infection could worsen and spread. The most common signs of a bone infection are:
- Redness or warmth near the area of the infection
- Pain or tenderness in the area of the infection
- Swelling around the infected bone
- Reduced range of motion
Diagnosing a Bone Infection
A podiatrist can diagnose a bone infection through a physical exam. The area of the affected bone will be checked for signs of infection. Swelling and pain are often indicators that an infection is present in the bone. To confirm the diagnosis, the following tests may be ordered:
- Blood tests
- Imaging tests such as an X-ray, CT scan, or MRI
- Biopsy of the bone tissue
Treatment for osteomyelitis depends on the severity of the condition and can vary from patient to patient. The most common treatment options are:
- Antibiotics. Antibiotics are used to control the infection. Many times, antibiotics can help avoid surgery if they clear up the infection in the bone. Antibiotics can be administered intravenously or orally.
- Surgery. Surgery is done to remove the infected bone and surrounding infected tissue.
- Drainage. If pus or fluid has accumulated, the infected area may need to be drained.
- Amputation. If all other treatments have failed, amputation is done to prevent the further spread of the infection.
Time to See a Podiatrist
If you are experiencing pain in your feet or ankles, or have questions about bone infections, contact Greater Washington Advanced Podiatry. Our office can help create a customized treatment plan based on your specific needs. To set up an appointment, fill out our convenient contact form or call our office at (301) 515-FEET.