Are you having back pain with any of the following?

  • Severe pain, weakness or tingling in your leg(s).
  • Difficulty stopping urination or loss of control of bladder or bowels.
  • Unexplained fever, nausea or vomiting.
  • A history of cancer or unexplained weight loss.

We understand that you are experiencing one or more of the health issues that might be impacting your back pain.

We recommend that you discuss these health issues with your doctor before proceeding with this program.

Once you are cleared by your doctor to do this program, we hope it helps you find relief from your back pain.

Provider photo for Jeremy Swartzberg

Jeremy Swartzberg, MD

Hospital Medicine

Welcome to My Doctor Online, a web site that my colleagues and I developed to make it easier for you to take care of your healthcare needs. On this site you will find answers to many of your questions about my clinical practice. Also included are several online features that will allow you to e-mail me, check your laboratory results and refill prescriptions. I hope you find its content informative and useful.

My Offices

Oakland Medical Center
Appt/Advice: 510-752-1190

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Osteomyelitis is a bone infection. It is caused by bacteria or a fungus.

It’s important to diagnosis osteomyelitis early and treat it with antibiotics. This helps:

  • Lower the risk of infection spreading to other bones or tissues.
  • Prevent chronic osteomyelitis problems.

When osteomyelitis is serious or chronic, we often need to immobilize the infected bone in a cast or splint or perform surgery.

Additional References:


An infection of 4 weeks or less is called early osteomyelitis. It’s usually curable with 4 weeks of antibiotic treatment that includes:

  • Use of a single antibiotic or antibiotic combination, based on the infecting bacteria or fungus.
  • IV (intravenous) treatment delivered through a vein. Some antibiotics can be taken by mouth.

Longer infections are called chronic. They may require longer treatment and surgery. Even when treated, chronic osteomyelitis can recur years or decades later.

Our first goal is to prevent osteomyelitis from spreading. We may partner with:

  • Another infectious disease doctor
  • Orthopedic surgeon
  • Vascular surgeon
  • Wound care expert

Immobilization. To improve healing, we may support the infected bone in a cast or other device. Children with osteomyelitis in a leg or arm bone often need this.

We may use needle aspiration or minor surgery to drain fluid from a wound.


Surgery may be needed to remove:

  • Bone areas that have died due to chronic or acute osteomyelitis. This is called debridement.
  • Hardware (such as metal plates or screws) placed in an earlier surgery to repair an injured bone.
  • A joint replacement device (or clean rather than remove it) and any tissue damaged by the infection. If we remove the prosthesis, we usually place a new one after the osteomyelitis is cured.

Home Treatment

Self-care is important for healing. Follow these guidelines:

  • Take your medications as prescribed.
  • Carefully follow the self-care instructions we give to you.
  • Keep the IV attachment site clean at all times, if you’re receiving antibiotics by IV.
  • Keep any drainage sites clean at all times.
  • Eat well.
  • Get plenty of rest and sleep.
  • Get help with your care, if needed.


If an osteomyelitis infection doesn’t respond to antibiotic treatment or becomes chronic, the infection can spread. It can affect nearby bone, surrounding tissue, or even move into the bloodstream.

  • Blood poisoning or soft tissue inflammation are more likely to develop.
  • Septic arthritis can develop if the infection moves from the bone to the joint.
  • Growth deformities can develop in children, since their long bones are still forming.
  • Long-term joint and limb function problems can result.

We sometimes need to treat these problems by removing dead bone, tissue surrounding the bone, or even partial amputation of the limb.

For Caregivers

Help the person you are caring for to:

  • Keep the wound site clean.
  • Take all the medication in the prescription, even when he or she is feeling better.
  • Change medication IV bags (this may be done by a home health nurse). Keep the skin around the IV site clean.

Call us immediately if these signs of infection appear around the wound:

  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Warmer skin

Remind the patient not to walk on or use the infected bone, until we say it’s OK to do so. If the bone is supported by a cast or other device, help the patient be as comfortable as possible.

Encourage the patient to eat well and get plenty of rest. Good self-care is important for the healing process.

If you have an emergency medical condition, call 911 or go to the nearest hospital. An emergency medical condition is any of the following: (1) a medical condition that manifests itself by acute symptoms of sufficient severity (including severe pain) such that you could reasonably expect the absence of immediate medical attention to result in serious jeopardy to your health or body functions or organs; (2) active labor when there isn't enough time for safe transfer to a Plan hospital (or designated hospital) before delivery, or if transfer poses a threat to your (or your unborn child's) health and safety, or (3) a mental disorder that manifests itself by acute symptoms of sufficient severity such that either you are an immediate danger to yourself or others, or you are not immediately able to provide for, or use, food, shelter, or clothing, due to the mental disorder.

This information is not intended to diagnose health problems or to take the place of specific medical advice or care you receive from your physician or other health care professional. If you have persistent health problems, or if you have additional questions, please consult with your doctor. If you have questions or need more information about your medication, please speak to your pharmacist. Kaiser Permanente does not endorse the medications or products mentioned. Any trade names listed are for easy identification only.

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