Diabetic Foot Conditions: Osteomyelitis Foot Infection

Updated 3/17/2021
We discuss Osteomyelitis, its causes, and UFAI's advanced treatment options.

What's Osteomyelitis?

 

Osteomyelitis, also known as "Diabetic Foot Infection" is one of the most significant complications a diabetic patient can have.

 

Diabetics often suffer from poor blood flow and nerve damage because of neuropathy. This puts them at great risk for developing osteomyelitis.

 

The seriousness of this condition cannot be ignored because a severe chronic infection that does not get better may require the removal of the infected part of the body (amputation). At that point, without amputation, the infection could spread to the blood and be fatal.

 

The Causes of Osteomyelitis

Diabetic Foot Infection

Osteomyelitis often develops due to an open and neglected sore (ulcer) that becomes a foot infection. Although it is possible to get foot infections through the bloodstream from other infected areas of the body, the most common cause of osteomyelitis is a direct infection of the bone.

 

Recent surgery or injection around a bone can also expose the bone to bacteria and lead to osteomyelitis. In addition, patients taking medications that weaken their immune systems are at a higher risk of developing osteomyelitis. Risk factors include diabetes, cancer, chronic steroid use, sickle cell disease, HIV, hemodialysis, IV drug users, and the elderly.

 

 

Osteomyelitis Symptoms

Due to neuropathy (nerve damage), a diabetic foot infection may fail to exhibit any outward symptoms (pain or fever). The only sign may be an area of skin breakdown that is worsening or not healing.

 

Patients who have previously suffered from osteomyelitis must take vigilant care of their feet due to possible reoccurrence of the foot infection.

 

Diagnosing Foot Infections

Your physician will first take a thorough medical history and examination. They will be watchful of areas of your feet that exhibit tenderness, redness, swelling, and open sores.

 

If your doctor suspects a foot infection, they will probably order a blood test to see if your body is fighting disease.

 

Patients suffering from osteomyelitis often experience changes in their bones. For that reason, your doctor may take x-rays, MRI, or a CT scan to confirm his diagnosis.

 

If the area around the foot infection is found to have osteomyelitis, a biopsy of the bone may be obtained to help determine precisely which bacteria are involved. The culture from this procedure indicates the best choice for antibiotic treatment.

 

Treatments for Diabetic Foot Infections

Antibiotics for Diabetic Foot Infections, University Foot and Ankle Institute
Antibiotics are often prescribed to treat diabetic foot infections.

Antibiotic treatment

In many cases, osteomyelitis can be effectively treated with a lengthy (4-8 weeks, or more) of antibiotics. Sometimes the infected area may be immobilized to reduce pain and speed recovery. If antibiotics are ineffective, your doctor will use more aggressive medicine.

 

Surgical treatment

Previous treatment options for osteomyelitis required removal of the dead bone and, in most cases, amputation of the foot or ankle due to the bone removal. However, the Foot and Ankle Institute has developed several techniques for the removal of the infected bone and delayed grafting or bone transfer to the area of bone removal. This allows for the preservation of the foot and ankle and limited or no need for amputation.

 

Although this technique is not for everyone with osteomyelitis, we pride ourselves in our preservation efforts and try to salvage as much, if not all, of the foot and ankle.

 

University Foot and Ankle Institute, the Best Choice for Diabetic Foot Treatment

 

Our doctors and surgeons employ cutting-edge treatment for diabetic foot infection patients. Our aim is to use non-surgical options to heal your wound. But when surgery is indicated we strive to employ the least-invasive approach and get you back to good health.

 

UFAI's specialists understand the unique circumstances that diabetics face caring for their feet. We pride ourselves on offering the best care possible.


UFAI specializes in all aspects of diabetic ulcer care and we have expertise in all forms of ulcer treatment including specialized brace formation, casting technique, surgical wound closure, and genetic skin graft use.

 

Our doctors are nationally recognized experts in the treatment of diabetic foot care. They have decades of experience and understand the special circumstances surrounding diabetic foot conditions.

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