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What Is Bone Marrow EDEMA?

Bone marrow edema occurs accumulation of excessive fluid inside the bone marrow. Bone injuries may cause fluids to accumulate due to a protective mechanism in the body. Bone Marrow Edema may also occur from underlying diseases such as osteoporosis or tumors. 

Bone marrow consists of spongy, flexible structures inside the bones and generates new blood cells such as RBC, WBC, and platelets. The blood cells transport oxygen, fight infection and clot the blood to help prevent excessive bleeding from an injury.

Causes Of Bone Marrow EDEMA

The exact cause of bone marrow edema is not always clear, but it is believed to result from an imbalance between bone remodeling processes. It can be associated with several factors, including:

  1. Trauma: Bone marrow edema can occur as a result of acute injuries, fractures, or repetitive stress on the bone.
  2. Inflammatory Conditions: Certain inflammatory conditions, such as arthritis or osteomyelitis, can cause bone marrow edema.
  3. Avascular Necrosis: Lack of blood supply to the bone, known as avascular necrosis, can lead to bone marrow edema.
  4. Overuse or Microtrauma: Repetitive overuse or micro-trauma to the bone, commonly seen in athletes, can cause bone marrow edema.

Indications Of Bone Marrow EDEMA

The symptoms of bone marrow edema can vary depending on the underlying cause and the specific location of the edema. Common signs and symptoms include:

  1. Pain: Bone marrow edema is often associated with localized pain in the affected bone. The pain may be dull, aching, or sharp, and it can worsen with weight-bearing or activity.
  2. Swelling and Tenderness: The affected area may exhibit swelling and tenderness upon touch or pressure.
  3. Restricted Range of Motion: Depending on the location of the bone marrow edema, there may be a limited range of motion or difficulty with certain movements.

Diagnosis of bone marrow edema is typically made through imaging studies. MRI is the preferred modality as it can clearly visualize changes in the bone marrow and surrounding structures. X-rays may also be used to assess bone density and identify any associated fractures or abnormalities.

Treatments For Bone Marrow EDEMA

Treatment of bone marrow edema focuses on addressing the underlying cause, reducing pain, and promoting healing. Treatment options may include:

  1. Rest and Immobilization: Avoid activities that exacerbate symptoms and provide adequate rest to allow the bone to heal.
  2. Pain Medication: Over-the-counter pain relievers or prescription medications may be used to manage pain and inflammation.
  3. Physical Therapy: Specific exercises and stretches prescribed by a physical therapist can help improve the range of motion, strengthen surrounding muscles, and promote healing.
  4. Assistive Devices: The use of crutches, braces, or other assistive devices may be recommended to offload weight from the affected bone and support healing.
  5. Addressing Underlying Conditions: If bone marrow edema is secondary to an underlying condition, such as arthritis or avascular necrosis, treatment will focus on managing that condition.

In some cases, more invasive interventions may be required, such as surgery or interventions to improve blood supply to the bone (e.g., core decompression) in cases of avascular necrosis.

If you would like to speak to a Texas Orthopedic Specialist in DFW, give us a call at 817-697-4038, or contact us over the web. Tele-medicine appointments are also available.