Overview of the Bone Infection


Bone infection is the result when bacteria or fungi attack a bone. It is also known as Osteomyelitis. In children the bone infection occurs in the long bones of the arms and legs but, in the adult, they usually appear in the hip, spine, and feet. Bone infection can either happen suddenly or can develop over a period of time. If it is not treated properly, the bone infection can leave a permanently damaged bone in patients.

Causes of Bone Infection

Many organisms travel through the bloodstream and can cause a bone infection. An infection can start in one area of the body and spread to the bones through the bloodstream. An organism that infects a severe injury, deep cut or wound can also cause infections in nearby bones. Bacteria can enter the bloodstream at a surgical site like the site of knee replacement surgery or bone fracture repair. When the bone in your body breaks bacteria can invade the bone leading to infection. Few circumstances that increase your chances of bone infection are:

  • Diabetes
  • Intravenous drug use
  • Hemodialysis, treatment used for kidney condition
  • Trauma to tissue surrounding the bone
  • Artificial joints can come infected
  • Sickle cell disease
  • Smoking

Symptoms of Bone Infection

Usually, the first indication to appear is a pain at the infected site. Other symptoms include:

  • Fever and chills
  • Redness in infected areas
  • Irritability or generally feeling unwell
  • Drainage from the area
  • Swelling in the infected area
  • Stiffness or inability to use the affected limb


The doctor will perform a physical exam to check swelling, pain, and discoloration. He may also order lab and diagnostic test to determine the exact location and extent of the infection. Probably the doctor will ask for blood test for an organism which is responsible for the infection. Another test could be throat swabs, urine culture, and stool analyses. Bone scan and MRI scan can also be conducted. In some case, a bone biopsy may be necessary.


Antibiotic is required for the bone infection to be cured. The doctor may administer the antibiotic intravenously or directly into the veins if the infection is severe. You may need to take the antibiotic for up to six weeks in that case.

Sometimes the bone infection might require surgery. if you undergo surgery the surgeon will remove the infected bone and dead tissues and also drain out any abscesses or pockets of pus.


Dr Dhananjay Gupta

Dr Dhananjay Gupta
Director and Senior Consultant,
Orthopaedics and Joint Reconstruction and Replacement Surgeon
Fortis Flt. Lt. Rajan Dhall Hospital, Vasant Kunj, Delhi.

Disclaimer: The content on this website (www.dhananjaygupta.com) is solely for the purpose of educating and creating awareness about the domain i.e. Orthopedic. This shall not be treated as a substitute to a professional Orthopedic surgeon's advice or prescription. Every individual and their case is different, so the results of any of the treatments mentioned on the website may vary.