What Causes Osteomyelitis In The Foot And Treatments A Podiatrist Might Recommend

Foot complications are a common side effect of diabetes. Because of poor circulation and nerve damage, it's easy to injure your foot and for the injury to become infected and difficult to heal. It's even possible for a foot infection to spread to a bone in your foot. This condition is called osteomyelitis, and it's a leading cause of foot amputations. Here's a look at what causes foot osteomyelitis, how it's diagnosed, and treatments your podiatrist might recommend.

How Bone Infections Happen

A number of things can lead to a bone infection, but when you have diabetes, a foot ulcer is often to blame. A foot ulcer can be caused by stepping on a foreign object, a shoe rubbing against your foot, or an injury such as a cut when trimming toenails.

If you have nerve damage in your foot, you might not feel pain that lets you know your foot is injured. Without early treatment, the injury can become infected and worsen and spread. Once an infection sets in, it can be difficult to stop, and that allows the infection to reach the bone.

How Foot Osteomyelitis Is Diagnosed

Sometimes a foot ulcer is so bad that you can see that the infection reaches your bone. Other times, the bone infection might be covered by tissue and not be easily seen. Your podiatrist can order x-rays to visualize the bones in your feet and look for areas that might be infected. Your podiatrist might also do a probe test or a bone biopsy to find out what's going on with your foot infection and to see how deeply the infection has spread.

How Osteomyelitis In The Foot Is Treated

The first step in treating osteomyelitis is to treat the surrounding infection, and that usually requires antibiotics. However, bone infections are difficult to heal with antibiotics because blood circulation in the bone is much lower than blood circulation in other tissues. This makes it difficult to deliver antibiotics to the infected bone tissue.

Your podiatrist may need to remove part of your bone when it's infected. The podiatrist may need to remove infected and dying flesh around the bone too. In more serious cases, your foot may need to be partially amputated to get rid of the infection so the infection stops spreading. An infection that can't be controlled is dangerous since it can spread through your bloodstream or infect bones and be difficult to treat.

A bone infection can be complicated to treat and heal, so it's best to avoid a foot infection when possible. Be sure to check your feet every day for cuts and other injuries and call your podiatrist when you notice a foot injury or other problem with your foot that could turn into an ulcer and serious infection. Early treatment could keep the infection from reaching your bones.

For more information on osteomyelitis, contact a podiatrist near you.