Osteomyelitis, Bone Infections:

  • Infection can be caused by a number of different agents. Athlete’s foot is an infection of the skin caused by a fungus. Warts are caused by a viral infection of the skin.
  • When most people think about infections they are thinking about infection caused by bacteria. There are numerous types of bacterial infection. Infection generally requires a break in the skin from a cut, abrasion, puncture wound or ulceration.
  • The most common infection is caused two bacteria, Staphylococcus and Streptococcus. Both of these infections cause progressive tissue damage of varying degrees.
  • People with diabetes can develop infections by several bacteria at the same time.
  • Infection that occurs in the skin is called cellulitis. Deep infections that develop pus pockets are called abscesses.
  • The most common bacterium that causes cellulitis is Streptococcus. These infections can become very serious and even life threatening.
  • Cellulitis is characterized by spreading redness in the area with an increase in the temperature of the skin, often accompanied by fever and chills.
  • People who suffer from venous stasis, chronic swelling in the legs, are prone to these infections.
  • Cellulitis is also commonly seen in associated with athlete foot conditions.
  • The athlete’s foot causes small breaks in the skin, which can become infected, by the Streptococcus bacteria.
  • Soft corns, particularly between the fourth and fifth toes can also become infected and cause cellulitis and or an abscess.
  • Puncture wounds are very likely to become infected. This can result in a very dangerous deep abscess that can also infect the bone.
  • A doctor should evaluate all deep puncture wounds as soon as possible. Simply cleaning the outside of the puncture wound is not enough to prevent infection.
  • Oral antibiotics should be prescribed and the wound watched carefully. If there is any sign of infection, surgical cleaning of the wound should be preformed.
  • People with diabetes are at particular risk of infection. In fact, people with diabetes spend more time in the hospital for foot infections than for any other reason.
  • Corns and calluses on the feet of people with diabetes can break down and allow bacterial invasion of the tissue.
  • In people with long standing open ulceration the underlying bone can become infected. Bone infections, called osteomyelitis, generally require surgery to remove the infected bone.
  • These infections are very difficult to cure with oral or intra-venous antibiotics without also removing the infected bone. The presence of bone infection can be diagnosed with special tests such as bone scans and MRI. These test are not 100% accurate however and the experience of the treating doctor becomes very important in making the correct determination as to the presence of bone infection.