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Care and Treatment for Bone & Joint Infections

Why Choose Treatment for Bone & Joint Infections at University of Colorado Hospital?

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The Infectious Disease Group practice at University of Colorado Hospital is nationally recognized. Our doctors are board-certified and conduct groundbreaking research. They're faculty at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, so they have to keep current with the latest developments.

Our multidisciplinary care team has long experience in diagnosing and managing a wide range of infectious diseases, and we offer patients access to the latest treatments.

What are Bone & Joint Infections?

Bone and joint infections occur when a bacterial infection spreads from one part of the body to a bone or joint through the blood.

The infected bones begin to produce pus, and this can result in an abscess, or pocket of pus. In time, the infection can interfere with the bone’s blood supply, which in turn can cause the bone to die. One of the most common bone and joint infections is called osteomyelitis.

Bone and joint infections can cause a number of symptoms, including:

  • Pain in the bone
  • Swelling, redness and warmth near the infected bone
  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • General ill feeling or discomfort

Several factors increase a person’s risk for bone and joint infections, including trauma, diabetes, hemodialysis and intravenous drug use.

If you are experiencing symptoms similar to those of a bone or joint infection, please see your primary care doctor, who can refer you to the proper specialist.

Tests & Treatments

Tests for Bone & Joint Infections


Physical examination – can determine bone tenderness, swelling and redness.


Bone scan – a radioactive material is injected into your vein. It travels through your blood. A camera detects the material and takes a scan of your body, measuring the amount of material in your bones.


Blood cultures – a blood test that determines if there is an infection in your body.


Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) – a non-invasive technology that provides highly accurate imaging of your bones. An MRI lasts approximately 30 minutes.


Needle aspiration – a needle is used to remove tissue from the infected area for testing.


Bone lesion biopsy – a small amount of bone is removed for testing. This involves numbing the skin, and using a small needle to remove a bone sample.


Treatments for Bone & Joint Infections


Antibiotics – a medication that is used to destroy the bacteria causing an infection.


Surgery – in some cases, surgery is necessary to remove dead bone tissue.

Your Medical Team

The Infectious Disease Group Practice at University of Colorado has a multidisciplinary team of health care providers. Each specialist is trained to provide different aspects of infectious disease care. Your medical team will be assembled with the specialists best suited to treat your condition.


Infectious Disease Specialists at University of Colorado Hospital


Infectious disease specialists – board-certified doctors who are specially trained in diagnosing and treating infectious diseases.


Nurse practitioner (NP) – a registered nurse who has completed a master’s degree. NPs are licensed to see patients for assessment, treatment and follow-up.


Registered nurse – graduated from a formal nursing education program and is licensed by the state of Colorado.


Pharmacists – have a doctorate degree in the science of medication.


Nutritionists – health professionals with special training in nutrition. They help patients determine the best dietary choices for better health.


Endocrinologist – a board-certified medical doctor who is specially trained to diagnose diseases that affect the glands.


Obstetricians/gynecologists – an obstetrician is a board-certified medical doctor who specializes in delivering babies. A gynecologist is a board-certified medical doctor who specializes in treating diseases of the female reproductive system.


Oncologist – a board-certified medical doctor who specializes in diagnosing and treating cancer.


Psychiatrist – a board-certified medical doctor who specializes in diagnosing and treating mental disorders.


Psychiatric nurses – have special training in caring for patients with mental disorders.


Other Infectious Disease Staff


Social workers – help individuals ensure their personal well being and provide the resources for people to get the help they need, by assessing all aspects of their life and culture.