Bone Infection in Foot, Toe and Leg: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment

Shahid Iquebal   by Shahid Iquebal, M.Pharm.    Last updated on May 9, 2018,

bone infection in leg

 

Bone infection in leg: causes and symptoms

Infection in leg bone can be caused by a number of different agents most prominently by bacteria followed by fungi and viruses. The two most common infection causing bacteria are Staphylococcus and Streptococcus.

Bone infections of leg are usually more common in children, though it can happen at any age and to anyone. It can occur suddenly as well as can develop over a long period of time. The infection penetrates deep into your leg bone and lead to bone infection, also known as osteomyelitis.

The infection may begin at one place and can spread to bones via blood circulation or an infecting agent may enter into your bone through wound opening.

Pain and temperature changes are the first symptoms to appear followed by redness, warmth and swelling in the affected area. You may also experience chills, nausea and vomiting. If you have any opening in the skin and suffering with these symptoms, you should immediately contact your doctor.

Leg bone infections can be treated with antibiotics. Antibiotics are first administered through intravenous route, and upon improvement in the condition or upon symptomatic relief, the route of antibiotic administration is switched to oral at least for 4-6 weeks.

In case of persistent infection, a surgical procedure may be needed.

More: Jawbone Infection (Osteomyelitis In Jawbone): Symptoms, Causes, And Treatment

More: How Serious Is Osteomyelitis (bone infection)? Can Osteomyelitis Cause Death?

Causes of bone infection in toe: What is osteomyelitis of the toe?

Apart from the other agents that can cause bone infection such as bacteria and fungi, a rare but important cause of toe infection is ingrown toenails. It is extremely painful condition and if left untreated can lead to osteomyelitis. If you have ingrown toenails, you should consider for immediate treatment.

If an ingrown toenail is left untreated and persists for several weeks or months, there may be manifestation of an infection which will affect the nearby bone. Since the growth cells of the toenail are in close proximity to the surface of the bones of the toe, an infected ingrown toenail may migrate to the root cells, and may also attack the bone.

Since bones have low blood supply, and because of low penetration of antibiotics in toe bone, most toe bone infections ultimately require surgery to remove the infected bone to prevent the infection from spreading further.

In severe conditions of toe bone infection, a partial toe amputation, or even complete removal of the toe may be required to resolve the situation.

Bone infection in foot

Bone infection in foot is relatively common, especially in the presence of other infectious processes in the foot.  Your foot has typically thin soft tissue layer and gets continuous exposure to the outside environment. This makes it vulnerable for direct infection through punctured wounds and soft tissue infection. Infection via blood circulation in foot is less common.

Individuals suffering from diabetes are at higher risk for the foot infection known as diabetic foot infection primarily due to neuropathy, vascular insufficiency and decreased neutrophil function.

Due to high blood glucose level, sensation of any cut or puncture is lost. Wound remains exposed to bacterial inoculation and further infection by ultimately lead to deep bone infection or osteomyelitis.

More: Problems Due To Calcium Deficiency: Is Low Calcium Dangerous?

Antibiotics and treatment for bone infection in foot

Choice of antibiotics depends on severity of infection, route of administration and duration of administration.

Mild infection can be treated with oral antibiotics effectively such as dicloxacillin, cephalexin and clindamycin.

Other categories of antibiotics used in the treatment of bone infection in foot either alone or in combination, includes:

  • Rifampicin
  • Fluoroquinolones
  • Fusidic acid
  • Linezolid
  • Sulfamethoxazole/Trimethoprim
  • Lincosamides
  • Streptogramins
  • Tetracycline
  • Macrolide
  • Fosfomycin
  • β-lactum antibiotics