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Signs and Symptoms of Osteomyelitis

written by: Time2go • edited by: Diana Cooper • updated: 11/26/2010

Osteomyelitis is a bone infection that can be caused from an injury, or by traveling through the bloodstream from other infected areas of the body. Although there are various signs and symptoms of osteomyelitis, there may be occasions when there are no warnings of the infection at all.

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    Osteomyelitis Symptoms

    The symptoms of osteomyelitis will vary depending on where the infection has occurred. Examples of the less aggressive symptoms include: irritability, chills, fever, and nausea. The more severe infections will show visible signs of swelling and discoloration over infected bone, but the most obvious symptoms are debilitating pain, muscle stiffness, and paralysis. The condition will worsen if left untreated for a long period of time. Although anybody can be subjected to this condition, it is more often found in young adults, and recreational drug users.

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    Vertebral Osteomyelitis

    Vertebral osteomyelitis is caused when the spine has become infected with a virus. Staphylococcus Aureus is the most common organism associated with spinal infections. Normally, a spinal infection does not affect the nerves of the spine until it spreads to the spinal canal, causing epidural abscesses or pressure to the nerves. Infection that has traveled to the cervical or thoracic area of the spine may cause paraplegia or quadriplegia.

    The symptoms of vertebral osteomyelitis include: headache, pain or stiffness around the neck area, tingling sensations throughout the arms or legs. If a person has recently undergone a surgical procedure or attained an injury, the things to also look out for are wound discoloration and drainage. It is best to consult with a doctor if any of these signs occur.

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    Chronic Osteomyelitis

    Chronic symptoms of osteomyelitis may be similar to those of other bone infections, but the major difference is that the infection keeps reoccurring. The only way to know if the bone infection has become incurable is to get a blood test and proper diagnosis from a doctor or specialist. In some cases, a person with chronic osteomyelitis may require some type of joint replacement or amputation in order to remove the infected area, and if the infection is not controlled, a person may risk the chance of it spreading throughout other places in the body.

    When osteomyelitis is at the chronic stage, a person may become more susceptible to fractures, which often causes parts of the body to become disfigured and/or disabled. Chronic osteomyelitis is difficult to treat because the infection interferes with the blood circulating to the bone, which ultimately destroys healthy tissue. If the skin near the infected area becomes infected, it could possibly lead to ulcers that frequently discharge infected substances.

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    Treating Osteomyelitis

    There are several ways to treat the osteomyelitis. As of today those options are: medication, drainage, surgery, joint replacement, and amputation. It is very important that the individual and his or her doctor discusses which treatment is best for the infection, and what to expect after the procedure. Be sure to visit a hospital or clinic if experiencing any of the symptoms of osteomyelitis that are listed in this article.

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    Sources

    http://my.clevelandclinic.org/disorders/osteomyelitis/hic_osteomyelitis.aspx

    http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000437.htm

    http://www.livestrong.com/article/76453-chronic-osteomyelitis-symptoms/

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