Sacral Osteomyelitis

Sacral osteomyelitis is an infection of the sacrum, the triangular bone at the base of the spine. This condition can lead to significant pain and discomfort, impacting an individual’s quality of life. Early diagnosis and treatment are important to prevent complications. In this article, we will explore the symptoms, causes, diagnosis, imaging and treatment options for sacral osteomyelitis.

Symptoms of Sacral Osteomyelitis

Recognizing the symptoms of sacral osteomyelitis is important for timely medical intervention. Common symptoms include:

1. Persistent Pain: One of the primary symptoms is severe and persistent pain in the lower back or buttocks. This pain may worsen with movement or pressure.
2. Swelling and Redness: The affected area may become swollen, red, and warm to the touch, indicating an infection.
3. Fever and Chills: A fever often accompanies sacral osteomyelitis, along with chills and general malaise.
4. Difficulty Sitting or Standing: Due to the pain and discomfort, individuals may find it challenging to sit or stand for extended periods.
5. Fatigue: Chronic pain and infection can lead to feelings of fatigue and weakness.

Causes of Sacral Osteomyelitis

Sacral osteomyelitis can be caused by various factors, including:

1. Bacterial Infection: The most common cause is a bacterial infection, often from Staphylococcus aureus. Bacteria can enter the bloodstream and travel to the sacrum.
2. Surgery or Injury: Surgical procedures or traumatic injuries to the sacral area can introduce bacteria, leading to infection.
3. Chronic Conditions: Individuals with chronic conditions such as diabetes or weakened immune systems are more susceptible to infections, including sacral osteomyelitis.
4. Intravenous Drug Use: Drug users who inject drugs are at higher risk of developing infections, including sacral osteomyelitis.
5. Pressure Ulcers: Bedridden patients or those with limited mobility can develop pressure ulcers, which may become infected and lead to sacral osteomyelitis.

Diagnosis of Sacral Osteomyelitis

Accurate diagnosis of sacral osteomyelitis involves several steps:

1. Medical History and Physical Examination: A thorough medical history and physical examination are essential to identify symptoms and potential risk factors.
2. Blood Tests: Blood tests can help detect signs of infection, such as elevated white blood cell count and increased inflammatory markers.
3. Imaging Studies: Imaging techniques are important for diagnosing sacral osteomyelitis. Common imaging studies include:
• X-rays: X-rays can reveal signs of more advanced bone infection.
• MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging): MRI provides detailed images of the sacrum, helping to identify early infection and inflammation.
• CT (Computed Tomography) Scan: CT scans offer cross-sectional images of the sacrum, aiding in the detection of bone changes and abscesses.
4. Bone Biopsy: A bone biopsy may be necessary to confirm the diagnosis. A small sample of bone tissue is taken and examined for signs of infection.

Treatment Options for Sacral Osteomyelitis

Effective treatment for sacral osteomyelitis typically involves a combination of medical and surgical approaches:

1. Antibiotic Therapy: The primary treatment for sacral osteomyelitis is antibiotics. The choice of antibiotics depends on the type of bacteria causing the infection. Long-term antibiotic therapy, often administered intravenously, is required to eradicate the infection.
2. Surgical Intervention: In severe cases or when there is no response to antibiotics, surgical intervention may be necessary. Surgical procedures can involve:
• Debridement: Removing infected and dead tissue to prevent the spread of infection.
• Drainage of Abscesses: Draining abscesses or fluid collections that have formed around the sacrum.
• Stabilization: In some cases, surgical stabilization of the sacrum may be required to prevent further damage.
3. Pain Management: Pain management is an essential aspect of treatment. Doctors may prescribe pain medications to alleviate discomfort and improve the patient’s quality of life.
4. Physical Therapy: After the infection is under control, physical therapy can help restore mobility and strength. Physical therapists design exercises to improve flexibility, reduce pain, and enhance overall function.
5. Lifestyle Modifications: Patients with sacral osteomyelitis may need to make lifestyle modifications to support their recovery. This includes maintaining proper hygiene, managing chronic conditions like diabetes, and avoiding activities that put undue stress on the sacrum.

Preventing Sacral Osteomyelitis

While not all cases of sacral osteomyelitis can be prevented, certain measures can reduce the risk:

1. Prompt Treatment of Infections: Treating infections promptly and thoroughly can prevent the spread of bacteria to the sacrum.
2. Proper Wound Care: Ensuring proper care of wounds and surgical sites can minimize the risk of infection.
3. Managing Chronic Conditions: Effectively managing chronic conditions like diabetes can strengthen the immune system and reduce susceptibility to infections.
4. Avoiding Intravenous Drug Use: Refraining from intravenous drug use can significantly lower the risk of bacterial infections.


Sacral osteomyelitis is a condition that requires prompt medical attention. Recognizing the symptoms, understanding the causes, and seeking timely diagnosis and treatment are important steps in managing this infection. With appropriate medical care, including antibiotics, surgical intervention, and supportive therapies, individuals with sacral osteomyelitis can achieve recovery.

Disclaimer: The content of this website is provided for general informational purposes only and is not intended as, nor should it be considered a substitute for, professional medical advice. Do not use the information on this website for diagnosing or treating any medical or health condition. If you have or suspect you have a medical problem, promptly contact your professional healthcare provider.

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