Vertebral Osteomyelitis: What It Is, Causes, and Treatment

Although rare, vertebral osteomyelitis is a severe disorder that impacts the spine’s skeletal structure. A bone infection known as vertebral osteomyelitis develops when bacteria or fungi infiltrate the vertebrae, leading to inflammation and decay of the bone tissue.


Factor Causing Vertebral Osteomyelitis:

Vertebral osteomyelitis may develop when a bacterial or fungal infection spreads to the spine from a different area of the body. Sometimes, the onset of infection can happen following a surgical procedure or as a result of physical trauma to the spinal area. One should immediately consult a spine and orthopedic specialist in such cases. Some of the factors are:

  • Compromised immune system
  • Diabetes
  • Engaging in intravenous drug use
  • A part of spinal surgery
  • Specific medical conditions that impact the circulation of blood to the spine, such as sickle cell anemia and atherosclerosis.

Indicators of Vertebral Osteomyelitis :

The indication of vertebral osteomyelitis can differ according to the intensity of the disease and the specific vertebrae that are impacted. Typical indications consist of:

  • Chronic back pain that exacerbates gradually.
  • Elevated body temperature and shivering
  • Excessive perspiration during sleep
  • Weariness and decreased energy levels
  • A reduction in the desire to eat


The affected spot is characterized by inflammation and a reddish appearance. The spinal movement is restricted. When vertebral osteomyelitis reaches an advanced stage, it can lead to neurological issues, such as limb weakness, a feeling of numbness, and a tingling sensation.

 The Diagnosis:

A  spine orthopedic surgeon will conduct a thorough physical examination and prescribe imaging tests such as X-rays, MRI scans, or CT scans to diagnose vertebral osteomyelitis. Additionally, blood screenings can be conducted to detect any indications of a bacterial or viral infection. Occasionally, there might be a requirement for a biopsy to verify the diagnosis and identify the specific bacteria or fungi responsible for the infection.


Treatment of Vertebral Osteomyelitis:

  • A common approach to managing vertebral osteomyelitis involves a blend of pain relief measures and administration of antibiotics. In certain scenarios, it may be imperative to perform surgery to eliminate infected tissue and enhance the stability of the spine.
  • Bacterial infection-induced vertebral osteomyelitis is primarily treated with antibiotics. The kind of antibiotic prescribed is reliant on the specific type of bacteria accountable for the infection. The duration of treatment generally ranges from a few weeks to a few months.
  • Effective management of discomfort is a vital component of treating vertebral osteomyelitis. Mild to moderate pain can be handled with non-prescription painkillers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen. In extreme situations, prescription analgesics may be required.
  • In cases of extreme vertebral osteomyelitis, when antibiotics fail to produce results or when the spine is substantially compromised, surgery may be required. Potential surgical solutions consist of excising the contaminated tissue, fusing the spine, or incorporating a device to support the spine.


Preventive measure:

Reducing the likelihood of infection is a necessary measure in the prevention of vertebral osteomyelitis. One should exercise proper hygiene habits, such as frequently washing their hands and ensuring that any cuts or injuries are appropriately maintained and protected. It is crucial to sustain a robust immune system by consuming a well-rounded diet, getting adequate rest, and refraining from cigarette smoking and unnecessary alcohol consumption.

It is crucial to collaborate with your doctor in managing your medical condition, such as diabetes or sickle cell anemia, that heightens the likelihood of developing vertebral osteomyelitis, to decrease the risk of any complications.


Final Overview

To conclude, Vertebral osteomyelitis is a grave infection of the spinal bones that can cause substantial agony and unease. Although uncommon, this ailment can result from the dissemination of a bacterial or fungal contagion from another body region or following a spinal operation or trauma. Generally, the treatment comprises the use of antibiotics and the alleviation of pain. In circumstances of a serious nature, surgery might become indispensable.

Mr. Mehta is a well-known spine and orthopedic specialist popularly known by the name Mehtas spine. He is an excellent doctor in this field and his patients have received the best treatment.