Osteomyelitis, a rare but serious condition, is an infection of the bone. It affects less than 1,000 people a year. Because it is such an uncommon disease, it’s important to find a physician with experience diagnosing and treating this often-painful disease. Specialist Sarfraz A. Choudhary, MD, FACP, at Infectious Diseases Tropical Medicine and Travel Clinic in Lansdowne, Virginia, has over 15 years of experience treating infectious diseases, including osteomyelitis. For more information, call or make an appointment online.
Osteomyelitis is a bone infection caused by a type of bacteria. The infection generally starts in another part of your body and spreads to your bones through your bloodstream. When the bones become infected, inflammation or swelling develops. Osteomyelitis affects people of all ages but affects them differently. With children, it generally affects the long bones in their legs and upper arms. In adults, it most commonly affects the bones in your spinal column.
The infection that causes osteomyelitis can stem from a variety of things. If you suffer an injury, have surgery, or have a deep open wound, germs can get into your body and cause an infection. People with suppressed immune systems from chemotherapy or HIV, as well as people with diabetes, are more susceptible to infections and are, therefore, at higher risk for osteomyelitis. Drug users who use non-sterile needles can introduce bacteria and germs into their system that may lead to osteomyelitis.
At times, there are no signs or symptoms or the symptoms are similar to other conditions, making it challenging to diagnose. Symptoms vary depending on the stage or type (slow or rapid onset) of osteomyelitis. The most common symptoms include:
At your appointment, Dr. Choudhary conducts a physical exam to detect tenderness around the affected area. Other diagnostic tests may include a blood test, X-rays, a CT scan or an MRI. To confirm a diagnosis of osteomyelitis, Dr. Choudhary performs a bone biopsy. A bone biopsy also helps determine which type of germ is the cause of your osteomyelitis, enabling Dr. Choudhary to develop the best treatment plan.
After Dr. Choudhary conducts a thorough diagnostic exam, he develops a targeted treatment plan to cure the infection and prevent it from spreading, while preserving the function of the bone as much as possible. Treatment may include:
To learn more about osteomyelitis and its treatment, call for an appointment or book one online.