Bone Infection

Bone Infection: What You Need to Know

Bone infection, or osteomyelitis, is an infection of one or more bones that can be caused by bacteria or fungus. It can be a serious health problem, as it can cause pain, swelling, and fever, and can eventually damage the bone and lead to bone loss. Treatment often requires a prolonged course of antibiotics, sometimes combined with surgery.

Types of Osteomyelitis

There are two types of osteomyelitis: acute and chronic. Acute infections come on suddenly and are usually caused by bacteria. Chronic osteomyelitis can occur after an acute infection or result from an infection elsewhere in the body. Chronic infections often come on more slowly and can be caused by bacteria, fungi, or both.


The most common cause of osteomyelitis is bacteria. It can be caused by a bacterial infection that begins in the blood or by bacteria entering directly into a bone. Bacteria can enter the bone directly through an injury or surgery, or from an adjacent joint infection. Osteomyelitis can also be caused by fungi, which can enter the bone through the bloodstream.


The most common symptoms of bone infection include:

  • Pain in the affected area
  • Swelling in the area
  • Redness or warmth in the area
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss

Diagnosis and Treatment

If your doctor suspects you may have an osteomyelitis infection, they will likely order one or more tests to confirm the diagnosis, such as a bone scan, CT scan, MRI, or biopsy. Treatment for osteomyelitis usually involves a combination of antibiotics and/or surgery. The duration of treatment depends on the type of infection, but can last from several days to several months.


The best way to prevent bone infection is to practice good hygiene and keep your body and immune system healthy. Eating a balanced diet, getting regular exercise, and washing your hands often can help prevent infections. If you have a weakened immune system or have had a bone infection before, your doctor may suggest additional preventive measures.