Bone Inflammation Definition and Meaning

Bone inflammation is an infection with often very malignant microorganisms. Open fractures and even surgery always carry the risk of osteitis. Radical surgery is usually the only treatment option for bone inflammation.

What is Bone Inflammation?

Bone inflammation causes severe pain in the bone area. The affected areas can be swollen and reddened, and cysts can also form in the area of ​​inflammation. See AbbreviationFinder for abbreviations related to Bone Inflammation.

Bone inflammation is a term that, in the narrower sense, describes a specific infection of the bone. The doctor speaks of an osteitis. Both terms are used in parallel and designate an infection of the compact bone substance, namely:

  1. A pathogen infection of the Haversian canals. These are microscopically small, longitudinally arranged supply lines of the compact bone. This is where capillaries and nervesrun.
  2. A pathogen infection of the Volkmann canals. These tracks correspond to the Haversian canals and connect them in the transverse direction.

Bone inflammation often occurs in combination with bone marrow inflammation (osteomyelitis). Because both clinical pictures merge into one another, the terms osteitis, osteitis and osteomyelitis are often used synonymously. In practice, osteomyelitis also refers to bone inflammation.


Bone inflammation is always the result of an infection. Rarely are there sources of infection in the body that spread to the bones. In most cases, however, the pathogens get into the bones, particularly through open fractures, where they trigger the inflammatory process.

But even during operations, it cannot be ruled out that germs can be introduced into the bones through non-sterile instruments. Fungi and viruses can be the causative agents of osteitis, but bacteria are the main cause of the serious inflammation. In addition to the streptococci, those bacteria that occur in connection with nosocomial infections play a role here. These are contagions that happen in hospitals and nursing homes.

Typical here are multi-resistant germs, i.e. microorganisms that no longer respond to several antibiotics. These problematic pathogens include some strains of Staphylococcus aureus, a major cause of bone inflammation.

Symptoms, Ailments & Signs

Bone inflammation causes severe pain in the bone area. The affected areas can be swollen and reddened, and cysts can also form in the area of ​​inflammation. If the disease is treated by a specialist at an early stage, there are usually no further health problems. In the absence of treatment, accumulations of pus appear, which can open to the outside.

Occasionally there are also fistula tracts through which the secretions penetrate into the tissue. Then severe infections, restricted mobility and a number of other symptoms can occur, always depending on the location of the abscess. Bone inflammation also causes typical fever symptoms. Patients are often tired and exhausted, suffer from headaches, muscle and joint pain, and notice an increased body temperature.

Externally, the disease can be noticed by hot skin and the visible swelling, which increases in size over time and eventually opens. Furthermore, movement restrictions or relieving postures can be determined. Those affected often show other symptoms, since bone inflammation is often caused by a serious underlying disease such as diabetes or cancer. The symptoms appear over the course of days or weeks and quickly subside with appropriate therapy.

Diagnosis & History

Bone inflammation manifests itself in the 5 classic inflammatory symptoms that occur together (heat, redness, swelling, pain, functional impairment).

Pus appears on open wounds or fistulas. The doctor recognizes a violent inflammatory reaction in the body with greatly increased leukocyte values ​​(white blood cells) from the blood count. A magnetic resonance tomography reveals the changes in the bone, where necrotic processes may already be in progress. This means that bone substance dies off.

Radical surgeries are required, risky but unavoidable. Germs can infiltrate neighboring organs or the entire body. The chances of recovery vary depending on the severity, but there is often a threat of an unphysiological constellation in the skeletal system. Disabilities are then the result of bone inflammation.


As a rule, bone inflammation is a very serious disease that must be examined and treated by a doctor in any case. If there is no treatment or direct surgical intervention, irreversible consequential damage can result for the person concerned. In most cases, patients suffer from severe bone pain and swelling.

The affected regions can also be red. Bone inflammation usually leads to fever and general tiredness and exhaustion. The patient’s resilience drops drastically. Other limbs and joints also hurt. If the bone inflammation is not treated, bone fractures can result.

These usually do not heal on their own. This can also damage neighboring organs. The quality of life decreases significantly due to bone inflammation. Osteoarthritis is usually treated with antibiotics and other medications. In some cases, surgery is also necessary. Usually there are no special complications.

When should you go to the doctor?

Bone inflammation must be treated immediately. As soon as pain in the bones occurs, a doctor should be consulted. The doctor can clarify the symptoms and choose a suitable therapy together with the patient. If other symptoms occur, such as increasing discomfort, fever or restricted mobility, it is best to see a doctor on the same day. Patients with chronic bone inflammation must keep in close contact with the doctor.

The chronic form occurs at intervals and can break out again very suddenly – then the necessary medication should already be at hand. After the disease has subsided, six-monthly check-ups with the doctor are indicated. In this way, any degeneration can be recognized and treated early. If there is a suspicion of a recurrence, the responsible doctor must be involved. The right contact person is your family doctor or an orthopedist. If the symptoms are severe, the person concerned should be taken to a hospital or doctor’s office. With children it is necessary to consult the pediatrician.

Treatment & Therapy

Bone inflammation is usually a bacterial infection and as such requires antibiotics. In most cases, however, oral or infusion medication alone is not enough to eliminate the focus of inflammation. The surgeon then has to excise the affected areas of the bone if they are inflamed or necrotic.

If stabilizing elements such as nails and screws were used to treat the fracture, they must be removed. Nevertheless, the fixation of the fracture point must be taken into account.

Excision of tissue surrounding the bone is often required. Disinfecting rinses should remove inflammatory tissue fluids and pathogens as completely as possible. Tamponades or chains soaked in antibiotics remain in the surgical area, and a drain is placed to drain purulent secretions. Sometimes the surgical wound is not closed but left open for further treatment.

It is possible that only one operation does not bring the desired success, so that the surgeon has to intervene again. Even after healing, surgeries may be needed. Because the operations have often led to a loss of substance, which must be compensated for as far as possible. The aim is then to restore the patient’s mobility. Otherwise there is a risk of disability as a result of bone inflammation.

Outlook & Forecast

The prognosis for bone inflammation depends on the time of diagnosis and the accompanying medical history. The severity and extent of the infection determine the chances of recovery, and individual factors such as additional illnesses or the age of the patient must also be taken into account.

If the bone inflammation is recognized at an early stage and treated in a targeted manner, complete healing without consequences can be expected in most cases. In the case of advanced development or insufficiently successful treatment, a chronic form of bone inflammation can develop, which often has to be treated surgically. Complications in the form of abscesses can occur. The decomposition of the bone tissue can also lead to fractures.

If the infection is particularly severe, bone transplants or amputations can also be considered. Affected patients often suffer from lifelong orthopedic limitations, disabilities and chronic pain. If the infection has spread to neighboring organs, the healing prognosis for the affected patients is significantly reduced.

If bone inflammation is left untreated, the infection can spread unhindered to other bones and organs and cause serious secondary infections. An untreated infection can sometimes be fatal.

Patients must be more sensitive to compliance with hygienic measures in order to avoid re-infection or to prevent the symptoms from worsening in the chronic course.


Bone inflammation in the context of prophylaxis is predominantly an issue of general hospital hygiene. Here, measures to optimize quality standards can minimize the risk of multi-resistant germs. The patient himself can do little. Only if there is a suspicion of a source of infection in the body, he should immediately consult the doctor. This is always advisable, as infiltration of the bones can also occur, leading to bone inflammation.


After acute bone inflammation, no scheduled follow-up examinations are usually necessary. No permanent damage can be expected. However, this does not mean that a disease cannot recur. Operations in particular involve an increased risk of this. On the other hand, preventive measures to avoid repeated bone inflammation do not exist. Follow-up care is therefore not necessary in the case of acute bone inflammation.

If treatment is started too late or not at all, a chronic form develops. This is more difficult to treat and requires a series of doctor visits. In the worst case, lifelong treatment is required. Orthopedic restrictions and complaints characterize everyday life. Tools are to be used for simple activities.

The disease can even spread to other organs. The doctor establishes a regular rhythm for examinations with his patient. A narrow grid is intended to rule out possible complications. Painkillers are required to be taken.

Imaging procedures such as X-rays provide a clear conclusion about the course of the bone inflammation. During follow-up care, an ultrasound image clarifies the extent to which soft tissues are affected. It is not uncommon for blood to be taken. Anamnesis plays an important part in the presentation. Physiotherapy is an essential part of therapy.

You can do that yourself

If bone inflammation is suspected, a doctor should be consulted first. The doctor can diagnose the disease and then initiate therapeutic measures – various self-help measures and household and natural resources support the treatment.

First of all, it is important to move the affected limbs as little as possible and to ensure sufficient bed rest and rest. Classic home remedies such as cooling pads and a gentle diet help with fever and high temperature. The body aches are primarily treated with medication, but medicinal plants such as arnica or comfrey can also be used to alleviate them. If an operation is necessary, the patient should do it as early as possible. After the operation, rest and protection are indicated. In addition, regular check-ups should be carried out, because this is the only way to rule out any complications and long-term effects.

Since bone inflammation significantly restricts freedom of movement, aids such as a walker or wheelchair must also be organized. If no relatives or acquaintances can take over the care, an outpatient care service should be called on temporarily. This is especially necessary in the case of severe inflammation. In the case of minor inflammations, it is usually sufficient to rest the body and in particular the affected limbs for a few days.

Bone Inflammation

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