Bone Marrow Edema: Causes & Treatment

    Living an athletic lifestyle or having an active lifestyle as most youngsters do, brings great health benefits. But that also means that they are more prone to getting an injury. Injuries like a broken ankle or fractured knees are common, but there is one more injury called bone marrow edema.

    Bone marrow edema is a condition of bones in which you may feel pain near or inside the bones. In this article, we will go through all the possible causes, diagnoses, and treatments required to get relief from bone marrow edema.

    In case you don’t want a detailed explanation about bone marrow edema (BME), you can skip the initial part and jump to ‘Overview’. Now let us understand what bone marrow edema is.

    What Is Bone Marrow Edema?

    Bone marrow edema is a condition in which excess fluid is built up in the bones, which causes pain in and around the affected bone. Bone marrow edema (BME) is caused if the bone is injured due to any external factor.

    Bone Marrow Edema
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    When any bones in the body are injured, the body secretes fluid as a part of a healing or protective mechanism. During which excess fluid can be secreted. If this fluid gets accumulated near the injured region, it leads to BME, which sometimes can be painful.

    Causes Of Bone Marrow Edema

    Bone marrow edema is mostly caused due to various kinds of injuries, but it can be a result of other underlying issues too. Let’s see what are the possible causes of BME.

    • Bone fractures: A fracture in bones means a break in the bone, which can be a partial break or a complete one. In both cases, the bone marrow gets open exposure, and it can lead to BME.
    • Bone Bruise: Bone bruise is similar to bone fracture, except it is less painful. It is a type of traumatic injury. If a bone is injured, it causes the build-up of blood as well as some other fluids around the region of injury, which in fact is bone marrow edema.
    • Bone Tumor: Bone tumors may or may not be cancerous, and in both cases, it is quite a rare condition. An extra mass can grow near a fracture during the recovery of an injury which leads to BME.
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    Bone Marrow Edema

    • Arthritis: It is a very common disease with different kinds of arthritis. It can be inflammatory or noninflammatory, and it causes pain in the joints.
    • Bone Infections: If there is an infection in the bone, there is a strong possibility that water may get accumulated in the bone.
    • Injury Of Ligament: Ligaments connect two bones to each other. Ligament injury indirectly affects the bone marrow and causes BME.

    The causes are many, and so are the treatments. The complexity and severity of this condition depend upon the reason which caused the bone marrow edema. We will see the required treatment later in this article; first, let us see what are the symptoms which indicate that you have BME.


    As we have seen, the reason for BME can be any one of the above-mentioned causes, and a single symptom can indicate many problems. One primary symptom is the pain around the bone. Patients can usually feel the pain in the bones or around the bone instead of relative muscle pain.

    If the knee is affected by BME, then the symptoms are quite obvious. In that case, you may notice symptoms like feeling pain in the knees or knees getting swollen and warm.

    The symptoms of bone marrow edema can be confusing, and one symptom can indicate many underlying problems. Also, BME may or may not always show symptoms. However, bone marrow edema doesn’t really require immediate medical attention; thus symptoms do not create any serious issues.


    Diagnosis of BME is quite simple. If your doctor suspects that you are suffering from a condition called bone marrow edema, he/she will first physically examine you and may ask you about your past medical history.

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    Bone marrow edema can be diagnosed by physically examining bone health with the help of blood tests or by performing an imaging technique known as MRI or ultrasound. Note that BME cannot be spotted using an X-ray or CT scan.

    However, bone marrow edema is not really a disease but a condition that may arise due to certain reasons. If the pain is unbearable, one can opt for treatment. Let us see how this bone marrow edema is treated.


    In most cases, or if the cause of BME is not severe, then treatment is not really required. The BME will heal naturally once the underlying cause has been solved. However, you can take painkillers to get relief from the pain until BME goes away.

    Bone Marrow Edema

    If the cause of BME is more severe, then it is advised to get proper treatment from a doctor. Depending upon the cause, the doctor may put you on medications or might even suggest surgery.

    If the other treatments like medications, steroid injection followed by rest (to allow for healing), in that case, you will have to undergo core depression surgery in which a hole is made into the bone (infected bone).

    This drilled hole will release the pressure and will clean the fluids accumulated inside the bone. After that, the gap is filled with stem cells which can turn into either Red Blood Cells or white blood cells, or the hole can be filled with bone graft material.

    After the treatment, a good amount of rest is advised to let the healing process do its magic to the bone.

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    So far, we have discussed everything from BME to the symptoms and treatment of BME. If you missed the detailed explanation given above or want a short summary of BME, here is a brief overview.

    Bone marrow edema, the name itself, is pretty much self-explanatory. Edema means a build-up of fluid and build-up of fluid inside the bone in the bone marrow, also known as BME. It can sometimes be painful.

    Bone Marrow Edema

    Usually, no medical attention or treatment is required for Bone marrow edema as it gets healed by itself. You can still take painkillers to get some relief from pain in case pain is unbearable. The BME can be easily diagnosed using MRI or ultrasound.

    The causes of bone marrow edema can be as simple as an injury to as complex as arthritis or even cancer. The treatment varies with the reason of BME. As I said, usually, it does not require any treatment. But in case the cause is severe, medications, injections, or even surgery can be required.


    To conclude everything that has been discussed so far, bone marrow edema may or may not be a severe disease. In fact, it is a condition and not a disease that can be treated by following proper medication.

    As we know, the symptoms of bone marrow edema are shared with other diseases like arthritis and cancer. Hence spotting symptoms is important in BME. Once the bone marrow edema condition is determined, diagnosis can help detect the exact pain position and can also help detect the health of the bones, which can later help in the treatment.

    If you too are suffering from bone marrow edema, take rest for several months to allow the bones to heal. Also, don’t hesitate to ask your doctor about the cause and required treatment for BME.


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