Osteomyelitis is an infection of the bone. It may be:

  • Acute—last a short time
  • Chronic—lasts a long time


Certain bacteria cause osteomyelitis. They come in contact with bone tissue and start to grow. Bacteria can reach the bone through:

  • The bloodstream—blood can spread infection to other sites
  • A deep cut that exposes the bone to bacteria on the top of the skin
  • An infection in nearby tissue such as a skin ulcer

Risk Factors

Osteomyelitis is more common in adolescents and young adults. Your chances are also higher for:

  • Poor blood flow
  • Injured bones or skin
  • Recent joint surgery including fixing a broken bone
  • Soft tissue infection
  • Weakened immune system
  • IV drug use
  • Using a tube to drain urine or get medicine
  • Pressure injuries


Symptoms may cause:

  • Bone pain
  • Fever or chills
  • Soreness, warmth, swelling, or redness of the skin or joint
  • Drainage of pus
  • Nausea
  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Problems moving a certain area
  • A sore over a bone that doesn't heal
Skin Infection Spreading to Bone
Bone Infection
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The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. You may have:


Care involves:


Antibiotics treat the infection. Acute osteomyelitis care can last up to 6 weeks. Chronic osteomyelitis needs care for a longer period of time. Medicines are through an IV or taken by mouth.


Surgery removes dead tissue and bone. Skin grafting replaces removed tissue and closes the wound. Healthy skin from some other part of the body is used.

Amputation may be the only care for severe infections.


To lower your chances of osteomyelitis:

  • Seek immediate medical care for infections or injuries.
  • See your doctor for any sores that do not heal.

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