Osteomyelitis - discharge
You or your child has osteomyelitis. This is a bone infection caused by bacteria or other germs. The infection may have started in another part of the body and spread to the bone.
At home, follow the health care provider's instructions on self-care and how to treat the infection. Use the information below as a reminder.
Bone infection - discharge
When You're in the Hospital
If you or your child was in the hospital, the surgeon may have removed some infection from your bones or drained an abscess.
What to Expect at Home
The doctor will prescribe medicines (antibiotics) for you or your child to take at home to kill the infection in the bone. At first, the antibiotics will likely be given into a vein in the arm, chest, or neck. At some point, the doctor may switch the medicine to antibiotic pills.
While you or your child is on antibiotics, the provider may order blood tests to check for signs of toxicity from the medicine.
The medicine will need to be taken for at least 3 to 6 weeks. Sometimes, it may need to be taken for several months.
If you or your child is getting antibiotics through a vein in the arm, chest, or neck:
If the medicine needs to be stored at home, be sure to do it the way your provider told you to.
You must learn how to keep the area where the IV is clean and dry. You also need to watch for signs of infection (such as redness, swelling, fever, or chills).
Make sure you give yourself the medicine at the right time. DO NOT stop the antibiotics even when you or your child begins to feel better. If all of the medicine is not taken, or it is taken at the wrong time, the germs may become harder to treat. The infection may come back.
If you or your child had surgery on the bone, a splint, brace, or sling may need to be worn to protect the bone. Your provider will tell you whether you or your child can walk on the leg or use the arm. Follow what your provider says you or your child can and can't do. If you do too much before the infection is gone, your bones may get injured.
If you or your child has diabetes, it is very important to keep your or your child's blood sugar under control.
When to Call the Doctor
Call your provider if:
Berbari EF, Steckelberg JM, Osmon DR. Osteomyelitis. In: Bennett JE, Dolin R, Blaser MJ, eds. Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett's Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:chap 106.
Dabov GD. Osteomyelitis. In: Azar FM, Beaty JH, Canale ST, eds. Campbell's Operative Orthopaedics. 13th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2017:chap 21.
Review Date: 9/22/2018
Reviewed By: Jatin M. Vyas, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor in Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Assistant in Medicine, Division of Infectious Disease, Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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