Osteomyelitis is the medical term for an infection in a bone. Infections can reach a bone by traveling through the bloodstream or spreading from nearby tissue. Infections can also begin in the bone itself if trauma exposes your bone to germs.
Bone infections commonly affect the long bones of your body, such as your leg bones (femur, tibia and fibula) and the large bone in the upper arm (humerus), as well as your spine and pelvis.
Osteomyelitis often occurs in children as a sudden or 'acute' condition. In adults, osteomyelitis may occur as either the acute or longterm ('chronic') form.
Once considered incurable, osteomyelitis can be successfully treated today. Still, osteomyelitis is a serious condition, requiring aggressive treatment to prevent spread of the infection and to save the affected bone.
The bacteria that cause osteomyelitis are able to 'hide' deep in the bone, and consequently the infection is capable of returning even after treatment has been completely. With appropriate antibiotic therapy, this occurs rarely.