Signs and symptoms of osteomyelitis include:
- Fever or chills
- Irritability or lethargy in young children
- Pain in the area of the infection
- Swelling, warmth and redness over the area of the infection
Osteomyelitis does not always cause any signs and symptoms. You may also have signs and symptoms that are difficult to distinguish from other problems.
There are situations that makes your bones vulnerable and easy to get osteomyelitis:
- Recent injury or orthopedic surgery. A severe bone fracture or a deep puncture wound gives infections a route to enter your bone. Surgery to repair broken bones or replace worn joints also can accidentally open a path for germs to enter a bone.
- Circulation disorders. When blood vessels are damaged or blocked, your body has trouble distributing the infection-fighting cells needed to keep a small infection from growing larger. What begins as a small cut can progress to a deep ulcer that may expose deep tissue and bone to infection. Poorly controlled diabetes, peripheral arterial disease, and sickle cell disease can cause blood circulation disorder.
- Problems requiring intravenous lines or catheters. Some people may have to use medical tubing to connect the outside world with your internal organs. However, this tubing can also serve as a way for germs to get into your body, increasing your risk of an infection in general, which can lead to osteomyelitis.
- Conditions that impair the immune system. If your immune system is affected by a medical condition or medication such as chemotherapy, poorly controlled diabetes, and needing to take corticosteroids or drugs called tumor necrosis factor (TNF) inhibitors, you have a greater risk of osteomyelitis.
- Illicit drugs. People who inject illicit drugs are more likely to develop osteomyelitis because they typically use nonsterile needles and don't sterilize their skin before injections.