Symptoms, causes, and Treatment of bone tuberculosis

Tuberculosis is an age-old problem in India. The problem is persistent because of the long treatment it takes. Tuberculosis generally affects the lungs. When it is left untreated tuberculosis, or if it stays for a long time can affect the bones. Specialists in the department of pulmonology call this Pott’s disease. It is a chronic and harmful disease and can also affect the nerves.

About bone tuberculosis:

This is a rare type of bone tuberculosis. Other names for this condition are tuberculous osteomyelitis and skeletal tuberculosis. This affects the lungs primarily and can also spread to other body parts through blood. It affects the spinal cord predominantly, apart from the other skeletal bones. The main cause of the disease is Mycobacterium tuberculin. It settles in the lungs and throat of the individual. The infection, when it is not treated, can spread to the bones.

Who gets bone tuberculosis?

People with a very weak immune system generally develop tuberculosis. According to experts in pulmonology, it is common in people with the following conditions.

  • People with HIV infection
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Head and neck cancers
  • Kidney disease
  • Low body mass
  • Vitamin D deficiency
  • Other infections of the lungs.

People with a weak immune system can also suffer bone tuberculosis. A weak immune system is the result of corticosteroid treatment, organ transplantation, treatment for rheumatoid arthritis, etc.

Symptoms of bone tuberculosis:

Bone tuberculosis begins as a slow disease. It advances slowly if treatment is not given. It has the following symptoms.

  1. Pain: People with bone tuberculosis experience severe and persistent pain. The pain gets worse over time.
  2. Swelling: It is common for people to have joint deformities. The swelling will, especially over injured joints and bones.
  3. Stiffness: Joint stiffness is also common. The affected people can experience a reduction in mobility of the joints. Stiffness in the joints will make movement easier.
  4. Limitation in movement: When bone tuberculosis worsens, it becomes difficult for people to move in different directions. The joints will get damaged and make movement difficult.
  5. Warmth: The skin over the affected joints will get warm and tender. There will be pain in touch.
  6. Fever and sweating: It is common to have low-grade fever and sweating at night.
  7. Loss of weight: Tuberculosis is the main cause of weight loss.

Diagnosis of bone tuberculosis:

Osteoarticular or skeletal tuberculosis are the other names for bone tuberculosis. Doctors will diagnose the condition through lab tests and clinical assessment. Pulmonology experts will perform a thorough physical examination to identify the signs and symptoms. They will conduct a series of imaging tests like

  • X-rays
  • CT scans
  • MRI scans
  • Bone scintigraphy etc,

to diagnose the condition. Lab tests like tuberculin skin test (Mantoux test) and blood blood will also help diagnose the condition.

Bone tuberculosis treatment:

Pulmonologists treat this condition using antibiotics. They also perform certain surgical procedures if required. Anti-tuberculosis medicines are given for six months to kill the bacteria. To deal with the damages of bone tuberculosis, surgical interventions like

  • Debridement
  • Drainage of abscess
  • Bone grafts and
  • Joint reconstruction

can be performed. Doctors will also perform regular monitoring and follow-up to modify the treatment plan as per need.


Can bone tuberculosis affect children?

Children below the age of sixteen years are vulnerable to bone tuberculosis. However, aged people are prone to getting this condition.

Bottom Line:

According to experts in pulmonology, prevention is the best medicine for bone tuberculosis. Practicing personal hygiene and keeping the nose and mouth closed while sneezing can avoid this condition. Immediate and appropriate treatment is the best cure as it prevents the spread and progress of the disease.

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