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~ Dr. Phil Pinsker

 

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853 Jefferson Ave
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Podiatrist - Washington
853 Jefferson Ave
Washington, PA 15301
(724) 225-7410
(724) 225-9469 - fax

Throughout history, one of the greatest killers in war wasn’t the battlefield, but infections. Men contracted the bacteria in different ways—sometimes from bugs or unsanitary conditions, other times from food or water, and still others through their wounds. Today infections are much easier to manage, but they still come with risks. Problems like osteomyelitis can still be deadly if not addressed soon enough.

What Is It?

Osteomyelitis is a potentially deadly infection in your bone tissue. It reaches various parts of your skeleton by travelling through your blood stream, spreading from infected soft tissues, or passing through injuries that expose the bone. The bacteria kills the bone tissue over time, though the infection could appear quickly, especially in children. People with diabeteshave a particularly high risk for the disease, since foot ulcers can significantly increase your odds of developing infections in your lower limbs.

It can be hard to distinguish osteomyelitis from other issues, since the symptoms you experience are fairly generic. Typically you develop a fever, fatigue, and irritability. You may have chills and nausea as well. The infected area usually swells, feels warm to the touch, and appears red. The damaged bones will hurt and you may have trouble walking as well.

The condition can be acute or chronic—quick and intense, or slow and long-lasting. Although both are very serious, it is easier to treat and remedy an acute condition than deal with a stubborn, chronic one that doesn’t respond well to treatment. In either case, the sooner you treat the problem, the more likely you will completely recover.

How Do You Treat It?

If you notice signs of an infection, especially after an injury or surgery, have it checked out immediately. Dr. Philip Pinsker and our team of specialists will examine your lower limbs and request specific tests to check for and diagnose osteomyelitis. Blood tests may reveal an infection and help identify the bacteria causing the problem. Diagnostic images like X-rays, CT scans, and MRIs can show damage to the bones and surrounding soft tissues. However, the most accurate diagnosis comes from a bone biopsy.

Once the condition has been diagnosed and the specific bacteria causing the issue has been identified, you can begin treatment. You will need extensive antibiotics to combat the infection. Often you are hospitalized and given the medication through an IV, so your health team can monitor your progress. Sometimes you are given extra antibiotics orally.

If the damage to your bones is extensive, you will most likely need surgery to address it. You may need to have the soft tissues around the bone drained of any pooled fluid and the damaged parts cut away. Usually any holes left from excising critically infected bone are filled with other tissues or medical filler to help your body restore blood flow to the area. If the infection is around surgical plates or screws, you may have to have those removed. If everything else fails to address the infection, you may need to have your foot or lower leg amputated to prevent the bacteria from spreading further.

Issues like osteomyelitis can be life and limb-threatening and should never be ignored. If you notice the symptoms of an infection in your bones, seek help immediately. That way any real problem can be caught and addressed before it has time to do further damage to your body. Request a prompt appointment with Philip S. Pinsker, D.P.M. if you’re concerned about a bone infection. Call (724) 225-7410 or use the online contact page to reach us.