Parts of your musculoskeletal system, such as your bones and joints, can develop an infection. An infection of the bone is called osteomyelitis, and an infection of the joint is called septic arthritis. Infection-causing pathogens usually enter a bone or joint through an open wound. Slow-healing wounds due to diabetes are considered high-risk causes of bone and joint infections. Bone and joint infections are serious medical conditions that can cause severe pain, disability, and even death.
What Causes Bone and Joint Infections?
Bone and joint infections are most often caused by bacteria, although they can also be caused by fungi or viruses. The most common type of bacteria that cause these infections are called staphylococci, which are found on the skin and in the nose. These bacteria can enter the body through an opening in the skin. Once inside the body, they can reach the bone or joint tissue and multiply, resulting in an infection.
Bone infections can occur after an injury that breaks open bone tissue, such as a fracture or surgery where metal rods or plates are inserted to hold bones together during healing (known as internal fixation). Joint infections can also develop after an injury or surgery damages the tissue around a joint.
Who Gets Bone and Joint Infections?
These infections can occur in any age group, but they are more common in children and older adults. People with weakened immune systems or chronic medical conditions such as diabetes are at increased risk for developing these infections. Patients who undergo orthopedic surgery are also at a higher risk, which is why they are often prescribed antibiotics immediately after surgery to lower their risk.
What Are the Symptoms of Bone and Joint Infections?
Bone and joint infection symptoms vary depending on the location of the infection but may include fever, chills, redness or warmth at the site of infection, swelling, drainage from the site, and pain. The affected area may feel stiff and hot to the touch. If left untreated, bone destruction, nerve damage, and blood poisoning (sepsis) can occur. The infection may also spread to other parts of the body.
Avoiding Infection After Orthopedic Surgery
There are a few things you can do to avoid developing a bone or joint infection after surgery. First, be sure to follow all of your surgeon’s instructions for postoperative care. This may include taking antibiotics as prescribed and keeping the surgical site clean and dry at all times. Secondly, be sure to report any signs of infection, such as redness, swelling, or drainage from the incision site, to your surgeon right away. Finally, attend all follow-up appointments, so your surgeon can monitor healing and identify any early signs of infection.
Bone and joint infections are usually treated by orthopedic surgeons. If the infection is caused by bacteria, then antibiotics will be prescribed. Surgery may also be necessary to clean out the infected area and remove any dead or damaged tissue. In some cases, a metal rod or plate may need to be inserted to stabilize the bone.
Early diagnosis and treatment are essential to preventing serious complications from occurring. If you think you might have a bone or joint infection, see your doctor immediately.
Bone and Joint Treatment in St. Peters, O’Fallon, & Wentzville Missouri
Infections affecting bones and joints should be referred back to the operating orthopedic surgeon immediately. At Advanced Bone & Joint, we are experts in bone and joint treatments, utilize the latest surgical techniques, and work closely with our patients to minimize the risk of infection. We also provide expert wound care for diabetics to prevent infection and other complications.