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Bone, Joint & Muscle Infections

Lee Health: Helping You Understand Your Child's Bone, Joint & Muscle Infections

Lee Health is here to provide your child and family with compassionate care starting with helping you understand your child's unique bone and joint infection. We offer the best treatment options to help your child heal and experienced specialists to help you during your child's recovery. Read more below about common bone and joint infections.

What are bone and joint infections?

Bone Infection (Osteomyelitis)

Bone Infection also known as osteomyelitis is a bacterial infection that is caused by inflammation of the bone. Most common in younger children (five and under), osteomyelitis often affects the long bones of the arms and legs, but can happen in any bone.

Joint Infection (Septic Arthritis)

Septic arthritis is the inflammation of a joint form a bacterial or fungal infection.  Septic Arthritis occurs when a penetrating injury occurs near a joint, thus allowing bacteria to directly enter the joint.

Muscle Infection (Pyomyositis)

Pyomyositis is a rare bacterial infection of the skeletal muscles that usually results in an abscess that forms in your muscle . 

Symptoms of a Bone Infection

Bone Infection (Osteomyelitis) Symptoms

While symptoms can vary from person to person based on their unique medical history and the severity of the infection, below are common Osteomyelitis symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Pain and tenderness
  • Irritability (in infants)
  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Warmth 
  • Difficulty moving (in joints near the affected area)

Symptoms of a Joint Infection

Joint Infection (Septic Arthritis)

Often, the joints affected by septic arthritis include the knee, hip, shoulder, elbow, wrist, and finger. While symptoms vary by individual, but the most common symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Joint pain
  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Warmth
  • Difficulty bearing weight on the affected joint

Symptoms of a Muscle Infection

Muscle Infection (Pyomyositis)

With pyomyositis, the symptoms depend on the progression of the infection. There are three stages of pyomyositis: 

Stage one lasts 10 to 21 days. Symptoms include:

  • Cramps and aches in the affected muscle.
  • Low-grade fever.

Stage two is when most people are diagnosed with pyomyositis. Symptoms include:

  • Fever and chills
  • A firm lump under the skin
  • Pain and tenderness
  • Mobility issues

Stage three of pyomyositis is serious and can be life-threatening. Symptoms include:

  • Extreme pain
  • High fever
  • Septic shock
  • Organ damage or failure

If you child is experiencing any signs of severe inflection contact your Lee Health provider immediately. Signs of a severe infection include:

  • Blisters
  • Pus
  • Skin sloughing or breakdown
  • Dark skin that becomes discolored or painful

Pediatric Infectious Disease Treatment Locations Near You

Causes of Bone, Joint & Muscle Infections

Infections are generally caused by bacteria that are present in our normal, day-to-day environment. Staphylococcus aureus, commonly known as "Staph", is the most common bacteria that causes bone, joint, or muscle infections. Bacteria enters the body in a variety ways, and circulate through the bloodstream until they reach a bone, joint, or muscle.

Pediatric Infectious Disease Specialists Serving Fort Myers and Cape Coral

Diagnosis and Treatment of Infections

If your child presents any of the above symptoms your physician may suspect an infection. Starting with a physical examination, your child's physician will look for swelling around bones and muscles, or fluid within the joints that are infected and order tests. If your physician suspects an infection they may also request test such as:

  • Blood Tests
  • X-rays
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scans
  • Ultrasound
  • Computed Tomography (CT) or Bone Scans
  • Needle Aspiration (sampling bone marrow) or Bone Biopsy (sampling bone)

Treatment options for any of these infections are unique to your child based on age, severity of infection, and the lifetime of said infection. Once your Lee Health provider has found a clear diagnosis and cause they will choose the best treatment option for your child. Some options include:

  • Antibiotics 
  • Surgery for severe bone infections, to drain abscesses or remove segments of dead or infected bone
  • Bone graft to replace dead or infected bone

Follow-up care might include a pediatric infectious disease specialist as well as your pediatric orthopedist.

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