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Bone infection

Bone infection (osteomyelitis)

Osteomyelitis is a bone infection. It may sometimes be treated if the correct antibiotics are given early. If not, it can cause permanent damage. Bone infections are caused by bacteria which can enter the bone via the bloodstream if there is an infection nearby or can be caused by an ‘open’ fracture or other injury where a wound penetrates to the bone.

If bone infections aren’t treated effectively:

  • The bone can die (osteonecrosis)
  • Arthritis can develop
  • Bone may not grow correctly
  • You may become unwell

What causes bone infection?

You are more at risk of getting an infection in a bone if you have:

  • Recently broken (fractured) a bone
  • Been injured or have a wound
  • Have an artificial hip, or a screw in a bone
  • Have recently had any surgery on a bone
  • A weakened immune system – for example, because of chemotherapy or you have another serious illness
  • Had a bone infection in the past
  • Diabetes, especially if you also have a foot ulcer
  • Sometimes an infection in the blood affects the bone or joints

Bone infection

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