CausesBy Mayo Clinic staff
Most cases of osteomyelitis are caused by staphylococcus bacteria, a type of germ commonly found on the skin or in the nose of even healthy individuals.
Germs can enter a bone in a variety of ways, including:
- Via the bloodstream. Germs in other parts of your body — for example, from pneumonia or a urinary tract infection — can travel through your bloodstream to a weakened spot in a bone. In children, osteomyelitis most commonly occurs in the softer areas, called growth plates, at either end of the long bones of the arms and legs.
- From a nearby infection. Severe puncture wounds can carry germs deep inside your body. If such an injury becomes infected, the germs can spread into a nearby bone.
- Direct contamination. This may occur if you have broken a bone so severely that part of it is sticking out through your skin. Direct contamination can also occur during surgeries to replace joints or repair fractures.
- Chihara S, et al. Osteomyelitis. Disease-a-Month. 2010;56:6.
- Longo DL, et al. Harrison's Online. 18th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2012. http://www.accessmedicine.com/resourceTOC.aspx?resourceID=4. Accessed Oct. 1, 2012.
- Humphries RL, et al. Current Diagnosis & Treatment Emergency Medicine. 7th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2011. http://www.accessmedicine.com/content.aspx?aID=55756409. Accessed Oct. 1, 2012.
- Lalani T. Overview of osteomyelitis in adults. http://www.uptodate.com/index. Accessed Sept. 21, 2012.
- Ray CG, et al. Sherris Medical Microbiology. 5th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2010. http://www.accessmedicine.com/content.aspx?aID=6950257. Accessed Oct. 1, 2012.
- Sia IG, et al. Osteomyelitis. Best Practice & Research Clinical Rheumatology. 2006; 20:1065.
- Infections. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00197. Accessed Oct. 5, 2012.