Bone Infection (Osteomyelitis)

If you or your child has a bone infection, or osteomyelitis, you can get comprehensive, expert care at Rush, including medical and surgical treatments.

If you or your child has a bone infection, or osteomyelitis, you can get comprehensive, expert care at Rush, including medical and surgical treatments.

Osteomyelitis is a bone infection caused by bacteria, a fungus or other germs. Older people are more susceptible to bone infections. So are people with diabetes and other conditions that cause blood circulation issues.

Signs You Should Get Help for Osteomyelitis

Symptoms of osteomyelitis include the following:

  • Fever, sweating and chills
  • Bone pain or tenderness
  • Severe back pain
  • Swelling and redness
  • Swelling of ankles, feet and legs
  • Lethargy, malaise or irritability

There's also a rare, but serious type of osteomyelitis called skull base osteomyelitis, which may occur if an ear or sinus infection spreads to surrounding bones or soft tissues. Skull base osteomyelitis has its own unique set of symptoms, including the following:

  • Headaches
  • Pain around the eye or ear
  • Hearing loss or ringing in the ear
  • Dizziness
  • Facial weakness or paralysis
  • Double vision
  • Hoarseness
  • Difficulty swallowing

Osteomyelitis Treatment at Rush

If you are diagnosed with acute, or short-term, osteomyelitis, your treatment might include the following:

  • Four to six weeks of intravenous antibiotics
  • Oral antibiotics if necessary

If you are diagnosed with chronic osteomyelitis, which persists over a long period of time, your treatment might include the following:

  • Intravenous and oral antibiotics
  • Surgery to remove infected or dead tissue or bone, with bone grafts to replace the tissue that's removed
  • Hyperbaric oxygen therapy to promote healing by delivering more oxygen to the bone
  • Surgery to improve blood flow to the affected area

In extreme cases of chronic osteomyelitis, amputation may be necessary. But this is a rare occurrence at Rush because we have experts who specialize in saving limbs in people with osteomyelitis.

stethoscope Meet our bone infection (osteomyelitis) providers

Rush Excellence in Osteomyelitis

  • Expert diagnosis and treatment: Osteomyelitis can be very difficult to diagnose, so it's important to choose a medical center where a team of experts in the field will oversee your care. Several infectious disease specialists at Rush have been named among Chicago's best doctors by Castle Connolly Ltd., a respected source of information about U.S. health care providers and institutions.
  • Wound care specialists: Rush has wound care specialists in Chicago, Oak Park and Aurora/Fox Valley who are highly successful in treating patients with chronic, hard-to-heal wounds, including wounds associated with osteomyelitis.
  • Limb preservation: Physicians at the Rush Center for Limb Preservation use all of the latest reconstructive techniques and technology to help ensure you can keep your limb. We can often save the limbs of people with complex wounds. This is often true even for people who have been told that amputation is their only option.
  • Top-ranked surgery programs: The orthopedic and skull base surgery programs at Rush University Medical Center are consistently ranked among the best in the country by U.S. News & World Report. If you require surgery for your bone infection, you can rest assured that your surgeons will use the most advanced surgical approaches and safety protocols.