Saturday, September 26, 2009

Child Limping May Be Sign of Bone Infection

We have all had are falls and bruises. It is part of growing up. My boys are constantly horsing around upstairs, downstairs, outside, and inside. It is impossible to keep my eye on them 24/7. Sometimes they fall and sometimes they get hurt. But sometimes your child’s pain is more than just an ouchy from clowning around. Is your child limping and complaining of pain? Could your child be at risk of a bone infection?

Our bodies are constantly fighting off infection. Every time we take a breath, we are breathing in pathogens. We are coved in bacteria! Our immune system keeps these bacteria in check so there are not too many pathogens that will cause damage to the surrounding tissues. It is hard to believe but there is not one individual on earth that is bacteria free. You can use as much antibacterial soap available but there will always be something growing on you. How does this turn into an infection or disease?

Bacteria can sometime out power our immune system and grow out of control. This damages the tissues and creates an illness. Thus, we use antibiotics to help assist our immune system in the battle against bacteria. Children have an over abundance of blood vessels because of their high demand for nutrients for growing. Children, especially those under the age six, have more blood vessels in the bones. These vessels twist and turn and bacteria flowing through can sometimes get caught up, congregate, and begin an infection that kills bone. Imagine a windy river or creek. Some parts look crystal clear but in other areas twigs, moss and algae build up on the banks. Because of the way the water flows, some areas have rapids and others are a bit stagnant. The same happen with our blood flow and as long as our immune system constantly cleans up the mess there are no problems.

About 1/5,000 children suffer from a bone infection or osteomyelitis because the bacteria count becomes too high in the bone that the immune system cannot control the rising numbers. Children will complain of aches, pains in a generalized area of the infection. Children will also guard their pain by avoiding certain movements that aggravate them. When the infection is in the legs or feet, the child will often limp to avoid pain. Some infections are obvious from a puncture wound, but some just happen with no apparent injury because of the child’s intricate vessel system being overwhelmed.

When caught early, the infection will cause little damage, but the symptoms develop very slowly and thus medical attention is often not reached until the infection has become more sever. The infection can spread to joints and cause arthritis. If the infection causes severe damage to the growth plate it can cause deformities and underdevelopment. Though these are possible outcomes, it is often that the body walls off the infection and does not allow it to spread. To fight off the infection our body will need the assistance of appropriate antibiotics. Occasionally, the body needs even more help, and surgical removal or reduction of the infection is necessary.

Though osteomyelitis is rare, it is a possible. Thus, it is important to listen to your child when they are complaining of pain. Do they remember falling or getting hurt? Do they have fever? Are they irritable and unable to sleep well? Children are always whining, but sometimes the whines are important and need medical attention.

1 comment:

plastic surgeon los angeles said...

This is very sad when it happens to children.And many a cases the reading the disease takes so long that the time of action is lost.Yes we must listen to our child and take them seriously when they complain about health.

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